Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, planned to open a new Northern California fulfillment center to support high-volume holiday sales, increase speed of delivery and provide better selection for local customers. Amazon’s strategies for the new facility included an innovative robotics system. The company selected Prologis and the City of Tracy for the project because Tracy is Northern California’s distribution hub; there are 40 million households within four hours’ driving time; and the community boasts an excellent talent base.

Amazon’s plans called for deploying its Kiva System, a highly efficient mechanized rack storage system. To accommodate Kiva’s robotics, building requirements included four 10-foot floors with three mezzanine levels, necessitating an unusually high total clearance of 40 feet. Both the facility and the automated shelving system needed to be fully operational before the start of the holiday season in October. This gave the project team less than one year to deliver.

Since 2000, Prologis has provided Amazon with strategic distribution space in 19 markets, including the UK, China, Japan and the United States. By virtue of the strength and tenure of the relationship between Amazon and Prologis, Amazon trusted us to deliver the Tracy fulfillment center in less than 12 months, a highly accelerated timeline by industry standards. To meet Amazon’s deadline, we constructed the outside shell of the building while simultaneously constructing a multilevel mezzanine that would hold the Kiva System. We also managed around-the-clock construction shifts, including weekends and holidays. Just in time for Cyber Monday, Amazon was operating 3,000 robotic shelves in its Tracy center, cutting fulfillment cycle times from 90 minutes to 15.

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