In Amazon warehouses in Las Vegas, every delivery detail is taken care of
At Amazon’s delivery warehouse in the shadow of Jerry’s Nugget in North Las Vegas, drivers pull their vans into a canopy cargo area, each van with its flashing hazard lights.
As they roll around the corner to enter designated parking spaces, drivers honk their vehicles to signal that they are ready to receive packages.
It was close to 9:30 a.m. this September morning, which is one of the daily scheduled times for loading the vans. Soon, they’ll be delivering thousands of packages to homes, businesses, and Amazon lockers across the Las Vegas Valley.
The process by which the company manages its rapid deliveries – from the click to the door – is a complex web of educated estimates, meticulous plans and pervasive adaptability.
Inside the 145,000 square foot warehouse, one of Amazon’s three “last mile” fulfillment centers in the Valley, dozens of employees sort items into different bins based on their destination. .
It’s important to note that getting packages to their destination in Las Vegas is certainly unique compared to other U.S. cities, officials say.
“One of the tough things about being in Las Vegas is that we deliver to the Strip,” said Daryl DeSimone, operations manager at this North Las Vegas warehouse. “If a person is in Vegas for a few days and has forgotten something or needs something, they can have it delivered to their hotel on the Strip. We deliver to hotel mail rooms, they are often the first to come out.
Amazon, the huge Seattle-based cloud computing and logistics company that raised nearly $ 8 billion in net revenue in the second quarter of this year, sells hundreds of millions of items to people in more than 180 countries.
It has 13 operating facilities in Nevada, including a huge 855,000 square foot mega-warehouse near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that employs approximately 4,500 people. The facility – LAS7 – accommodates 4 million different items per week, officials said. During the holiday season, this number increases by 50%.
Knowing what to have in stock is a constant battle in educated guesswork, said building general manager Tom Smotrich. About half of the inventory that arrives at this fulfillment center comes from Amazon’s many retail partners. The other half comes from other distribution centers across the country.
“We use forecasting trends to be able to send products to closer markets,” Smotrich said. “If our inventory levels go down for a certain product, we’ll likely have inventory on hand in a different warehouse that we can access. We are very proactive.
Inside LAS7 is a dizzying array of stacked containers, measuring nearly 10 feet tall, which have individual locations with various items inside. The thousands of containers are arranged in rows by robotic systems – which resemble handleless lawn mowers – and remain seated until it is necessary to add to the container or begin the process of moving on the road. .
Robotic systems have a sensor so they don’t crash into each other. With the exception of the trained robotic technicians who wear backpacks with sensors so as not to be bumped, no one else is allowed to enter the area where the robots are moving. The employees who sort the products, whether they add to the containers or take them, are called storekeepers and preparers.
Each item or container will have a scannable barcode, so robots will know which containers are best suited, depending on the size and weight of a product, as well as the space available and the destination of the item. .
“In a traditional non-Amazon warehouse, products will generally be categorized by different products, such as electronics or housewares,” Smotrich said. “In fact, we are looking to maximize our cubic space. We maximize the space inside each of our bins.
Once the items are sorted and picked, they must then be packaged. At LAS7, that’s where Marisol LaRue and her fellow packers come in.
This afternoon, LaRue received products on a conveyor line. Depending on what type of product it was and what Amazon’s algorithm told her, she would place the item in one of dozens of different box types. Any box weighing more than 5 pounds receives a “heavy” sticker: a separate facility handles boxes over 25 pounds.
There seems to be reasoning behind each step of the process. Take tape for boxes, which at installation comes in large rolls and comes with a water reservoir that provides moisture for the adhesion to activate.
“If you get a package from Amazon, you might notice that it’s a little harder to break down,” Smotrich said. “The tape seals packages really well.”
There is also the option of wrapping the items in an envelope, which is accomplished by a machine that spits out the exact length of tape needed for a given box and indicates whether it needs bubble wrap.
Once a package is tagged and ready to be moved again, it goes through what Amazon calls its SLAM (Scan, Label, Apply, and Manifest) process. At this stop on the conveyor belt, the packages are scanned to ensure that the correct product at the correct weight is inside. The system then decides what will be the best shipping route for the package before a final label is placed.
The manifesto is basically a final check from an automatic scanner to make sure everything is okay. If something goes wrong, the package is reserved for employees known as “problem solvers,” who roll carts with computers on them around the warehouse.
From there, all packages go to the loading docks, where they will be placed on trucks that will take them to other distribution centers or to a last mile facility like the one next to Jerry’s Nugget.
Back at the North Las Vegas facility, DeSimone stood near where the vans continued to line up for their 9:30 am pickups. In the distance, he signaled a traffic light at a major entrance to the van park.
The light had a five second timer for a green on a right turn. That wasn’t going to cut it for Amazon’s schedule, so the company was successful in lobbying the city of North Las Vegas to extend the duration of the light.
As trivial as it may sound, five seconds counts a lot along the Amazon superhighway.
“There is a lot of information to sift through in order to make timely decisions,” DeSimone said. “You have to decide what the most important information is and then act on it. “
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.