Measuring at the size of over 17 football pitches, the Amazon Fulfilment Centre in Dunfermline is hard to miss when driving along the M90. As one of two centres in Scotland, the other being in Gourock, they deal with a large volume of orders. To make this possible, they rely on a slick and well organised system, as well as a skilled and dedicated work force.
On Monday, several of the SnapDragon team were lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look at how they do it when we went to tour the EDI4 site. On arrival we were greeted by our tour guides, Lavinia and George, in the very festive lobby complete with air hockey and labyrinth games tables. It was then time for the safety briefing. Safety is evidently a high priority across the entire site, with all staff members being readily supplied with safety equipment, and the dedicated health and safety team being present on the warehouse floor. George talked us through the Do’s and Don’t of the tour and provided us all with snazzy high-vis vests and head sets, as the warehouse is unsurprisingly very loud.
And we were off to our first stop: the inbound dock. Here products are sorted from trailers and lorries, ready to be stored in the warehouse. Before visiting the centre, we all expected to see shelves and shelves of books, followed by shelves and shelves of games, and shelves and shelves of mugs etc. However, George explained that Amazon actually uses randomised storage to ensure that each product can be quickly and easily picked. In many of the Amazon fulfilment centres this picking job is done by bright orange robots, trained to know exactly what they are getting and where it is. However, as Dunfermline is a legacy site, this job is still done by their 1200 strong workforce who can walk up to 10 miles a day collecting products from the shelves!
After picking, it is on to packing, where the team place the items into weighed and measured boxes. The system is careful to ensure that no details are on any of the items just in case the packer knows the customer. The details are added later by the ‘Slam Machine’ which blows the label’s onto the packages to avoid damage. These packages are now ready to be sent down the ‘helter-skelter’ and onto the waiting lorries. Apparently, the record for the fastest UK delivery was just 12 mins from order placed to the customer having the item! Now that is impressive.
We had a great learning experience at the Dunfermline Fulfilment Centre. Being able to see first hand how they operate was fascinating, particularly in the busy run up to Christmas. If you get a chance to book a tour yourselves we would highly recommend it. You may even get an Amazon water bottle!