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Photos and detail: Amazon nears opening of large Nampa facility

Nine months after construction started on the new Amazon warehouse facility in Nampa, the company gave the media a tour Tuesday. The building, which the company calls a “robotics fulfillment center” covers 650,000 square feet in a former farm field visible from Interstate 84.

“This facility will serve the Treasure Valley, but packages could go across the US or even internationally,” Amazon Boise General Manager Tim McIntosh said. “We will fulfill millions of packages from here each week.”

The company said it will hire as many as 2,000 workers for the facility. So far, Amazon posted just a few jobs – including a “loss prevention specialist” (someone to monitor theft), a medical representative, area managers and a few others.

While McIntosh could not say just when the center would open, he said it would happen “this year,” and that an extensive staffing process would start one to two months ahead of opening.

“We will be up and running to support the holiday season,” he said.

Amazon Fulfillment Nampa, ID
A worker continues assembly of machinery in side the building. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Robotics, people drive process

Amazon Robotics
An Amazon robot base unit, signed by local leaders who toured the facility Tuesday morning. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

A total of 40-million individual items will be stored in the building, typically.

McIntosh said even with the robotics, the 2,000 employees would be more than a typical fulfillment center.

“These sites employ the highest level of employees,” he said, referring to number of people employed. “They employ more than a facility without robotics typically.”

While this is the first Amazon center in Idaho, the company operates 150 across the country. Of those, about 50 use robotics, McIntosh said.

On the second, third and fourth levels of the warehouse, product is stored in tall yellow crates. Robots move the crates across the floor to workers, who will then grab the product and send it down to the ground floor to be packed in a box and shipped.

Each robot weighs about 200 pounds, and can support a crate of up to 15,000 pounds. They glide across the floor in an area where people are not present – unless maintenance is required, in which case the robotics system is disabled.

Boosting fulfillment capacity

The center will help the company fulfill online orders of a variety of items. Amazon worked to increase its logistics advantage and offer quicker delivery times for members of its Amazon Prime program.

Trailers will unload items on one end of the building, and another set of employees will load finished orders on trucks at the other side of the facility after procession. Drivers will then take orders in those 53′ foot trailers to other Amazon facilities, where the trucks will be unpacked and loaded on the smaller vans you see around town.

Amazon worked secretly for more than a year to get the project approved, using a shell company and the codename “Project Bronco” for the facility. The Idaho Press and BoiseDev found evidence well before the City of Nampa made the announcement that Amazon was behind the project.

Workers and quotas

The company said it would offer a $15 minimum wage, as well as benefits. Amazon repeatedly came under fire across the country for working conditions in its facilities but says it made steps to improve the treatment of workers. The company said it started investing in helping employees learn new skills and other initiatives.

Amazon Nampa robotics
An Amazon employee demonstrates the robotics system. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

BoiseDev asked if the center will use a quota system for workers, which has generated significant complaint from employees at other sites around the country

McIntosh answered the quota question by saying they would put safety first, and listed the company’s COVID protocol. When we asked again if quotas would be used, he declined to answer.

Separately, Amazon started work on a distribution center in Boise near Gowen Rd. Dozens of Amazon Prime vehicles currently use the largely-empty Boise Factory Outlet Mall parking lot as a temporary staging site.

Media gathers for the tour Tuesday. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev
Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].
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