Amazon’s new fulfillment centre is Ottawa’s largest building

Amazon’s newest and most technologically advanced fulfillment centre in Canada has opened in the city of Ottawa.

It is massive, filled with robots and is expected to be a huge economic driver.

The facility looks like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie. Five thousand robots sorting, scanning and moving as many as 20 million items, to be shipped locally, across Canada and the world. 

Amazon’s most advanced fulfillment centre, YOW3, has opened in Barrhaven, and it is home to three special robots. 

‘Robin’, a robotic arm with the ability to grasp, manipulate, identify and place packages onto a ‘sortbot’ – which takes items from one department to another. ‘Kermit’, a trolley that focuses on towing around empty containers, and ‘RWC4’, a large robotic arm which sorts totes by destination and builds pallets for shipping.

“The idea behind the technology is to be able to make the job safer for our team,” says YOW3 General Manager Jawad Kamani.

“In addition to that what we’ve been able to do is really condense the floor space that we have at large Amazon fulfillment centres. By bringing in technology, we are able to get into city centres, get into an area like this where there are closer neighbourhoods, associates have closer access to the building and it allows us to be closer to our customer.”

Make no mistake, at more than 2.6 million square feet – that’s four Ottawa Senators hockey arenas – this is the city’s largest building. There are 12 kilometres of conveyor belts to roll packages to its destination, to be sorted, stored or shipped, in a facility that operates 24 hours a day.

YOW3 is one of only five fulfilment centres of its kind in the world, and the technology used here does not take jobs away. In fact, this facility will help to generate more than 2,500 opportunities across the capital region. 

“As intelligent as the robots are they’re a bit clumsy so they need constant human interaction,” says YOW3 employee Basim Aftab. “And this is why there is a harmonious exchange between robots and humans at the whole facility which you will be seeing from end to end.”

Harsh Khaitan, regional director of operations for Amazon Canada, says there are more than 1,500 associates working in the building now and more than 300 others are expected to be hired this week.

“Our communities are recognizing us as an employer of choice and that’s our goal,” Khaitan said. “There is more I would like to hire, especially in certain shifts. We are looking for more folks to join us but we are also seeing a strong interest.”

Despite a Canada-wide labour shortage, Khaitan adds that Amazon continues to recruit staff with a focus on a competitive wage, which begins at $19 to $21 per hour along with a benefits package. 

For more information about job opportunities with Amazon in Ottawa, visit www.amazon.com/ottawahourlyjobs.

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