Robots and miles of conveyor belt: Inside Amazon’s Gaines Twp. center

Kent County

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s the place that handles your Prime packages.

For the first time Friday, News 8 got an inside look at the massive Amazon fulfillment center in on 68th Street in Gaines Township.

The 850,000-square-foot facility opened in March 2020, just as the pandemic was setting in.

It’s unlike any warehouse you’ve probably ever seen. It’s got 22 miles of conveyor belt, around 3,000 employees, tons of robots and hundreds of trucks coming and going every day. There’s a lot going on.

“It’s just a big building in general,” the fulfillment center’s acting general manager Matt Moss said.

Working there can be an intensely physical job. During stowing, workers get all the inventory physically and digitally checked in. They scan items and stow them in tall storage containers.

The next task is called “picking.” That’s where your order begins to be filled. Associates grab items from the tall storage containers, scan them and fill bins that are sent on to packing.

On any given day, the fulfillment center will get 600,000 packages out the door and on their way to you. Their biggest and busiest days of the year are coming up on June 21 and 22: Prime Day.

The Amazon fulfillment center on 68th Street in Gaines Township. (June 11, 2021)

“We constantly try to reinvent ourselves. It’s always day one for us. We have insanely high standards that we set for ourselves, and those standards include safety,” Moss, the acting general manager of the center, said.

Considering everything going on, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Amazon’s goal is to be “Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” The company recently launched a program called Working Well.

“Our employees, our associates, are our biggest assets. Safety is our number one priority today, tomorrow and every day,” Paula Williamson-White, workforce health and safety manager, said.

Every hour, employees are prompted to stop their work and go through stretching and mindfulness exercises. An injury prevention specialist on staff taught our News 8 crew the backward lunge, a move that helps prevent employees from getting hurt.

“We look at the risk and we make sure we put the right programs in place. We use health and safety experts, we use scientists and we get a lot of feedback from our associates, as well,” Williamson-White said.

Moss said programs like Mind Your Step, which pays for one pair of protective shoes per year for each employee, and the Wellness Zone with equipment for stretching or massaging out sore muscles, are helping keep employees well and on the job.

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