Amazon fulfillment centre nearing completion

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When Amazon’s new fulfillment centre opens in Rocky View County (RVC) at the end of August, it will provide more than 1,000 people with new jobs, according to Vibhore Arora, Amazon’s director of regional operations.

Local officials and media were given a tour of the 600,000-square-foot facility June 12.

“For Calgary, Crossfield, Didsbury and Airdrie, it’s going to be great. It’s hopefully just the beginning of what’s going to happen in the region,” said Mayor Peter Brown. “There’s going to be a lot of talk between municipal leaders, making sure we have the right communities built so we can support these amazing businesses and create jobs for our residents.”

Mayor Peter Brown signs a wall June 12 in the new Amazon fulfillment centre in Rocky View County. Local officials and media were given a tour of the facility, which should be completed and open for business by the end of August.

Amazon announced Oct. 26, 2017 it would build the facility in RVC, east of Balzac – the company’s first fulfillment centre in western Canada. Construction began in September 2017, with Dawson Wallace Construction Ltd. as the construction manager. James Fried, project manager, said the build was hampered by the long winter, as the region continued to receive snow into March.

“While people were shoveling their average driveway and sidewalk of their homes, we had a crew of about 40 people – and at its peak, 70 people – pushing snow 600 feet and clearing about 17 acres of roof on this facility to keep the schedule,” he said.

The building has 11 metre (m) high ceilings, and Fried said the amount of pre-cast panels used in the walls would fill three soccer fields. The construction includes 2,212 metric tonnes of steel – equivalent to 850 Ford F-150 pickup trucks. A rainwater collection system can hold two-and-a-half Olympic-sized pools of water. The building sits on a 2.5 m thick concrete slab, according to Fried.

One of the main features of the new facility is the automated material handling system, supplied by Honeywell Intelligrated. Steve McElweenie, vice president and general manager, said the company began work on designing and installing the system in March.

“It’s going to allow the Amazon operators to pick, sort, pack and ship online orders quickly,” he said. “It’s designed to increase throughput and accuracy.”

The system includes a 114 m long routing sorter that moves at 3.3 metres per second (m/sec) and a 539 m long shipping sorter that moves at 2.1 m/sec. Items are stored on a 21,600 square metre storage system, according to McElweenie.

Kent Rupert, City of Airdrie team lead of Economic Development, said the new facility would be a welcome addition to the business landscape.

“Certainly, a project like the Amazon fulfillment centre brings a lot of jobs to the region and huge recognition,” he said. “When you get a company like Amazon coming to the Airdrie region, a lot of other companies take notice.”

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