Inside Look: Amazon’s New Sidney Warehouse DVV2 [PICS]

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Geoff Suter, DVV2 Operations Manager, shows quick trigger fingers when it comes to scanning packages.

Amazon recently opened up its new distribution centre in Sidney, B.C., which is adorned with a $2 million mural on the outside. The tech giant invited iPhone in Canada to visit the centre first thing in the morning to get an idea of the operations that go into delivering packages across southern Vancouver Island.

The “last mile” distribution center is known as DVV2 and is the only sort station in North America that has an exchange point (XPT) operation, which means it’s not just responsible for sortation for Victoria, but also for locations further north, including Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Qualicum, and Campbell River, as per Geoff Suter, operations manager of the site.

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Tens of thousands of Amazon packages arriving from Vancouver are sorted, placed into bags, loaded onto carts, and then unloaded onto pallets to be shipped out to other destinations.

The warehouse typically sees around 20,000 packages a day, but that number can increase to 30,000 during peak season. On a Friday morning when we visited, roughly 35 associates are working at the centre, with approximately 100 people employed by Amazon.

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The center services up to 110 routes per day just for Victoria, with an additional 140 routes total, including Nanaimo. The furthest route from the Sidney warehouse located on the Saanich Peninsula is to Duncan, about 1.5 hours away.

Suter told iPhone in Canada with the new Amazon warehouse on Vancouver Island, it has exponentially increased the delivery time of everyone’s packages. Shipments have become 50% faster in a four-day period.

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He further added that they are happy to fulfill orders promptly and are looking for ways to expedite the process, such as offering 1-day delivery on the island.

To make 1-day delivery possible, one of the projects that Amazon is considering involves having a later sortation cycle that would allow trailers to arrive earlier in the morning and run another sortation cycle later in the day.

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Amazon delivery vans lined up preparing to drive down to the loading area; ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ (Mt. Newton) in the background.

However, the main obstacle is the BC ferries and the fact that this warehouse is located on Vancouver Island, with all packages incoming from fulfillment centres on the Lower Mainland by ferry.

We also saw how packages are scanned and sorted by employees, then loaded into pallets that are eventually moved into delivery vans. There were about four waves of delivery vans that drove down from the upper parkade down to the lower warehouse area.

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Amazon ensures safety at all times as each wave of vehicles first park and line up, then all drive simultaneously to the loading bay, with all vans shut off at the same time. As employees busily loaded each van, the whole operation was run like a well-oiled machine.

We also got a glimpse of a staff area, that had vending machines, coffee, table tennis, foosball, carnival basketball, television, and soon a PlayStation 5 we’re told.

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The Amazon DVV2 distribution centre is located on Victoria Airport Authority lands and is about a 5-minute drive from B.C. Ferries, the route that links Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland. Some issues that have come up from nearby residents include some warehouse lighting being too bright, but Amazon says it’s addressing that by planting more foliage around the warehouse.

Overall, if I can get my Amazon packages delivered faster from the convenience of lounging around in my bespoke burgundy silk pajamas all day, sign me up. We’ve already noticed our local delivery times have improved with the warehouse here, corroborating what Suter told us.