Yongkin Tours Amazon’s New Robotics Fulfillment Center in Suffolk

Besides robots, 1,500 employees process 200,000 packages daily

published

October 20 2022




by

Robin Cedersky


Amazon’s 3.8 million-square-foot Robotics Fulfillment Center opened in Suffolk in September. Photo by Robin Cedersky

Amazon.com’s 3.8 million-square-foot bot fulfillment center in Suffolk opened in September, but the global retail giant held a major official opening at the facility Thursday, allowing Amazon officials to show off the center to Governor Glenn. Youngkin who attended the opening and toured

The $230 million four-and-a-half-story building in Northgate Commerce Park is Virginia’s second largest – behind the Pentagon – and employs 1,500 employees. It processes about 200,000 packages per day, with plans to increase up to 1 million packages per day.

General Manager Gregory Lum puts a jacket on Governor Glenn Youngkin before the couple tour Amazon’s Robotics Fulfillment Center in Suffolk. Photo by Robin Cedersky

Under construction over the past two years, it’s one of dozens of Amazon facilities around the Commonwealth, including several in Hampton Roads, but it’s Amazon’s first robotics fulfillment center in Virginia. The facility is nine football fields long and has more than 13 miles of transportation, said Gregory Lumm, general manager of the facility, which is located at the 2020 Northgate Commerce Parkway, to the crowd assembled for the center’s grand opening.

In addition to Yongkin, government officials present included U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, Secretary of State for Commerce and Commerce Karen Merrick, Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard “Chip Miller III” and Dell State Emily Brewer, among others.

“When I think of Amazon, I think of innovation. I think of boldness. I think of a company that is driven every day to be the best in its class. These themes resonate with our governor, who wants Virginia to be the best in class,” Merrick said during the event.

Yongkin highlighted the workforce Amazon is creating across the Commonwealth, the 30 jobs the company has already created here, as well as the retailer’s investments in logistics facilities and Amazon’s $2.5 billion East Coast headquarters being built in Arlington, which is expected to create 20,000 to 25,000 more jobs over the next decade.

“Today we have the opportunity to peek inside, and peek into the incredible capabilities that drive Amazon’s ability to deliver extraordinary customer service, cutting-edge access and opportunity for customers, and by the way, the coolest robots,” Yongkin said. “What we’ll see today is the next generation of what robots can do alongside an exceptional workforce…but it also represents the commitment Amazon has made to sustaining a culture based on innovation.”

An Amazon spokesperson told Virginia Business that the building represents Amazon’s latest robotic technology in the country. The Suffolk Center packs items 18 inches or smaller that serve the entire Mid-Atlantic region, which is one reason for the facility’s sheer size.

“We’ve brought in robotics technology to help make our operations safer and more efficient, and that’s exactly what they’re doing,” said Amazon spokeswoman Rachel Leite, adding that the robotic technology allows Amazon to ship packages to its customers faster and more efficiently, allowing human employees to focus on more complex roles. . Lum, the facility’s general manager, noted that the robots are doing the “heavy lifting” so humans don’t have to.

Governor Glenn Yongkin talks with Amazon employee Tamia Crawford on a tour of the new facility in Suffolk. Photo by Robin Cedersky

While touring the facility, Yongkin stopped to chat with the staff working alongside the robots to process customer orders and prepare them for delivery. I peeked at thousands of items from yellow boxes, waiting to be put into Amazon branded packaging.

Youngkin stopped by and spoke with Tamiya Crawford, an area manager who is overseeing a team for one part of the implementation process. “It’s not an easy job, but it’s rewarding,” said Crawford, who worked at Amazon for about a decade at facilities in Pennsylvania and Central Virginia before joining the Suffolk Center this year.

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