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See inside an Amazon fulfillment center where many of the workers don't get paid

We took a tour of Amazon's Kent, Washington robotic fulfillment center.
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1 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

This Kent, Washington facility is about 800,000 square feet. It opened in March 2016 as a dedicated robotics fulfillment center. Amazon has more than 175 fulfillment centers worldwide, including 35 dedicated robotics centers -- and the number is growing.

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2 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

The Kent, Washington building has around 2,500 employees. Fulfillment center employees typically work 10-hour shifts, four days a week.

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3 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

The robotics buildings are built specifically to accommodate the drive units. The flooring, for instance, has to be made from concrete of a certain grade.

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4 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

The robots follow QR codes on the ground.

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5 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

Each drive unit shuttles around thousands of pounds of merchandise. With a robotics building, Amazon can increase the inventory in a building by more than 40 percent.

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6 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

There are more than 25 different box sizes in this building, which is a designated "sortable building" -- it houses items that fit into the yellow bins.

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7 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

This building typically fulfills tens of thousands of orders a day. It has fulfilled more than 1 million customer orders within a span of 24 hours during peak holiday periods. It serves orders around the country but primarily orders from the Pacific Northwest.

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8 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

The company plans to open several more robotics buildings before the holidays. Amazon is opening robotics buildings close to metro areas to more quickly serve customers. Some new buildings have opened in Dallas, Baltimore and Sacramento, which serves a large swath of Northern California.

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9 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

At the entrance of the building, Amazon has hung up a few drive units signed by all of the facility's employees.

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10 of 10 Stephanie Condon/ZDNet

Amazon has been testing gamified interfaces in its fulfillment centers to create a sense of camaraderie among employees.

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