Boston Herald

Welcome, robots

Amazon opens Westboro manufactur­ing facility

- By AMY SOKOLOW

Amazon is expanding its footprint in the Bay State, adding a 350,000square-foot Westboro outpost that houses corporate offices, research and developmen­t labs, and a robotics manufactur­ing space.

“This new innovation and manufactur­ing hub, along with its sister site up in North Reading, places Amazon robotics at the epicenter of robotics innovation here in Massachuse­tts for years to come,” said Scott Dresser, vice president of robotics at Amazon.

The site, once home to drugmaker AstraZenec­a, has been open for a few months and was buzzing with activity Thursday afternoon during the official ribbon-cutting for the site, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Developmen­t Secretary Mike Kennealy in attendance.

Amazon began introducin­g robots into its facilities in 2012, and since then, has also added over a million employees to work alongside the more than 350,000 robots.

Though Amazon Robotics has had a North Reading site for about 10 years, which hosts similar roles to the Westboro facility, the new one “is the first in terms of size and scale of operations for Amazon Robotics,” according to an Amazon spokespers­on.

The facility will focus on R&D and manufactur­ing of mobile drive units, which work in fulfillmen­t centers to move products around the floor directly to employees, using artificial intelligen­ce to map their routes.

In fulfillmen­t centers, wheeled blue mobile drive units roll under large inventory storage pods, where they pick up orders and cart them to employees to be packaged and shipped out the door.

At the ribbon-cutting, Dresser of Amazon emphasized the job creation the new site will bring to the Bay State, despite the introducti­on of robots into the workplace. “We see (a future) where technology and people work together to accomplish really hard, challengin­g and meaningful problems. That collaborat­ion allows us to focus on being more creative, more innovative and more satisfied in our daily jobs,” he said.

Dresser said the site will create over 200 new advanced manufactur­ing roles, “hundreds” of robotics, engineerin­g, software developmen­t, R&D, and other tech-based roles, and 1,500 statewide seasonal roles in preparatio­n for the holiday shopping rush spread throughout the state.

Polito and Kennealy used the opportunit­y to tout STEM week in the Bay State, which promotes education opportunit­ies in those fields: science, technology, engineerin­g and math. Polito noted that STEM careers have grown by 18% in the past year alone, and called for increased educationa­l opportunit­ies in STEM internship and mentorship programs.

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 ?? NANCY LANE PHOTOS / HERALD STAFF ?? HELPING HAND: A worker builds robots, like seen at top, at the new Amazon robotics facility on Thursday in Westboro.
NANCY LANE PHOTOS / HERALD STAFF HELPING HAND: A worker builds robots, like seen at top, at the new Amazon robotics facility on Thursday in Westboro.

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