Workers Will Still Be Needed In Amazon’s Massive New Woodburn Warehouse Despite Advanced Robotics

WOODBURN, Ore. — Stretching over hundreds of yards and reaching 105 feet high, Amazon’s new warehouse on the western side of Interstate 5 in Woodburn is the company’s largest fulfillment center in the Northwest and one of its biggest anywhere in the world. Named PDX8 by Amazon, the facility will see robotics teams arriving this week to start outfitting the warehouse to handle a plethora of products and packages.

Woodburn’s city administrator, Scott Derickson said it’s an impressive site and part of the city’s industrial development strategy that took decades of work.  Frank Lonergan, Woodburn’s Mayor, said it means a lot for Woodburn’s economic growth, and they have been working on their urban growth boundaries to attract big business. He sees this as just the beginning and hopes big business will continue to grow in Woodburn.


Size Matters When It Comes To Warehouses

Woodburn’s PDX8 will be one of the biggest buildings in Oregon, and Amazon said the $500 million spent in Woodburn so far is only a portion of the project’s final cost. Over four times bigger than Amazon’s 6-year-old Troutdale warehouse, the bigger warehouse and more advanced technology will reduce the time between customers placing online orders and the packages reaching doorsteps in the area.

With a largely agricultural community of about 27,000 residents, Woodburn’s outlet mall just north of the new warehouse has been its main attraction in the Willamette Valley and some are apprehensive about the 3.8 million-square-foot facility. They are concerned the flood of employees and Amazon’s fleet of vans and trucks will add to traffic congestion in and out of Woodburn.


Robotic Technology In Amazon’s New PDX8 Warehouse in Woodburn

Although construction started in July 2021, Amazon changed course halfway through building, opting to install more advanced robotics that would handle more packages, faster. Part of the 11th generation of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, PDX8 will incorporate a relatively new robotics technology known as Robin. Packages on a conveyor belt are identified and plucked out by big robotic arms. These are then sent to Amazon employees to box for customer orders.

Amazon workers complained that repetitive physical tasks lead to injuries for many years. Amazon said data it compiled in 2022, after a Reveal investigation, found sites with new robotics technology had lower injury rates than sites without it. They want robots to take over the most strenuous work so employees aren’t lifting heavy items or walking long distances.  Leigh Anne Gullett. Amazon spokesperson, said, “We’re bringing the work to the employee.”


Workers Still Needed Despite Robotics At Amazon’s Woodburn Warehouse

About 1,500 workers will be needed at Amazon’s Woodburn site when it opens late this year or early in 2025. The company projects it could have 2,800 Woodburn workers on site before long, and up to as 3,500 employees over busy periods.

While hiring won’t start in Woodburn for a few months. Amazon said it will eventually be looking for workers to pick, pack, sort, and stow packages, at hourly wages between $17 and $28. Workers who are in school could also get various benefits like tuition assistance as well.

The city has long-term plans to add new city services by broadening Woodburn’s property tax base and making the local economy less reliant on low-paying agricultural jobs.


Benefits From PDX8 in Woodburn Downside Could Be Increased Traffic Jams

Despite not being offered property tax breaks as the Woodburn City Council removed Amazon’s site from its local enterprise zone, making it ineligible for tax breaks that could have been worth tens of millions of dollars, Amazon came anyway. The company donated $1 million to renovate a local soccer field and will pay $15 million towards upgrading a highway interchange near PDX8 and other changes to improve traffic flow.

Woodburn business owners and residents say they’re watching closely to see how the new warehouse will affect their lives and livelihoods. Their biggest concern is traffic. The city administrator, Derickson, said traffic is a reasonable concern but employees’ shifts will be staggered so everyone isn’t arriving and leaving at the same time.

The city’s budget is set to rise with the traffic in the next year by over a third, to $175 million due to tax revenue and development charges related to industrial and housing growth. Very little of this comes from Amazon as it isn’t paying most property taxes until PBX8 is ready to open.

The city anticipates Amazon’s taxes will ultimately help pay for more public amenities, and that new jobs will attract private services such as health care providers to the city. Woodburn voters will be asked to approve a $40 million bond for a new community center in November but the city hopes Amazon’s taxes will help cover this.

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  1. Wayne Barrett says

    why was Cabelas turned down years ago when they wanted to build there? lost that to Tualatin

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