Lead Forensics

Amazon reveals how it organises its Perth Airport distribution hub

A reporter from the Southern Gazette was allowed access to ecommerce giant Amazon’s distribution hub at Perth Airport in Australia. The journalist wrote a report on what she saw, which provides an insight into how Amazon organises its warehouse operations.

There are many videos on YouTube that show how Amazon organises its USA warehouses, with an army of robots bringing goods to packers. What struck the reporter, Sarah Brookes, was the larger number of humans, not robots, working at the Perth centre. Alike most warehouse operations, pickers pushed trolleys along shelf aisles to pick order items.

The 9,500-square metre warehouse stores 750,000 products. However, similar items are not stored together. For example, books are not stored with other books. Although the storing arrangements may sound random or counter-intuitive, Brookes was told that this is because of Amazon’s algorithms, which allocate storage locations so that the most efficient picking journeys could be planned. Items are stored according to demand, rather than in categories.

Brookes saw a large number of workers in the warehouse. What she didn’t see was the software running the algorithms that organise the whole operation. Amazon’s Perth centre is a model for an efficient modern warehouse, with human pickers working alongside advanced computerised warehouse management systems.

The report shows that Amazon still uses conventional, hand-pushed heavy duty trolleys from a supplier, as well as steel shelving, to store items. Not all of its warehouses are staffed by robots.

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