Amazon is constructing its first Australian robotic warehouse in Western Sydney.
Referred to by the US tech giant as a ‘robotics fulfilment centre’, the warehouse will use robots to help its human workers find packages for delivery.
It is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
Amazon Australia’s director of operations, Craig Fuller, said the warehouse will “more than double” the company’s “operational footprint” in Australia.
“This investment will also benefit the 10,000 plus small and medium-sized businesses which utilise 'Fulfilment By Amazon' to seamlessly service customers across the country,” Fuller said.
NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said the Amazon announcement was a win for the state.
“This new centre, once up and running, will create more than 1,500 jobs in addition to 700 construction jobs at a time when we need them most,” she said.
“Amazon’s decision to locate its first robotic centre in the Southern Hemisphere right here in Western Sydney is another great example about what the future holds.”
The warehouse, to be located on Goodman’s Oakdale West Industrial Estate in Western Sydney, will occupy around 200,000 square metres of floor space and will use more steel than Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
This will be fifth ‘fulfilment centre’ in Australia, but the first to be fitted out with Amazon’s suite of robotic helpers.
The company says the Western Sydney warehouse will create jobs for IT, HR and robotics professionals, though many of the roles to be filled at the Amazon warehouse will be for pickers and packers – ‘associates’ in Amazon lingo – who will run around the warehouse fulfilling orders with their robotic co-workers.
Amazon warehouse employees have reported difficult working conditions in warehouses both in Australia and in the US where their efforts finding and packing products are timed and they are heavily monitored.
One Amazon Australia worker told the ABC they felt “dehumanised” working for the company.
“I feel like they resent the fact that I’m not a robot and that I’m made of flesh and bone,” the employee said.
Some Amazon warehouse workers in the US went on strike during the company’s big annual sale last year in protest of “inhumane” workloads and high staff turnover.