State’s First Robotic Amazon Warehouse Opens in North Andover; Town Made ‘Generous’ Agreement

Gov. Maura T. Healey packed an Amazon box under the supervision of Sergiy Sushalskyy,the new North Andover facility’s general manager. (WHAV News photograph.)

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A grand opening of the state’s first automated Amazon warehouse in North Andover near the Haverhill border brought in such dignitaries as Gov. Maura T. Healey yesterday morning.

Amazon workers fill customers’ orders alongside robots at the new building that opened in January, bringing over 1,500 jobs to the area, according to Sergiy Sushalskyy, the facility’s general manager.

Higher-ups at Amazon as well as local and state officials packed into a white tent just outside the warehouse for the ceremony. Speakers emphasized the efficient and high-tech nature of the operation, which uses robots the governor said were all built in Massachusetts.

Touting the state’s high per capita investment in robotics startups, Healey said “that’s the power of being a leader in technology. It helps many other kinds of businesses grow. That means more jobs, more economic impact, more local revenue, which we are certainly seeing here, in North Andover. This is a huge investment in the Merrimack Valley.”

In the next 20 years, North Andover will receive over $85 million in revenue, compared to only $600,000 if the plot had remained vacant, Select Board Chair Laura M. Bates said.

She added Amazon signed “a generous community benefits agreement—that I’m told is the first in the nation with Amazon,” which includes $3 million for STEM programs at the high school, $200,000 for the library, youth center and senior center, $700,000 for tree-planting, $100,000 for traffic management, over $5 million in permit fees and $2 million in street infrastructure improvements. Merrimack Valley Transit also offers a bus stop at the location.

Other officials included Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, state Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao and North Andover Town Manager Melissa Rodrigues.

Vice President of Amazon Robotics Scott Dresser said they have prioritized workers’ safety in developing robotic helpers, which include shelves that move on their own and a tool that creates boxes according to the size of the item to be shipped.

During a tour of the facility, Sushalskyy explained workers wear a special vest that brings the shelves to a halt so they can pick up items that may have fallen to the floor. The shelves also stop if they sense a worker nearby, he added.

“The facility is quite large—we’re 3.8 million square feet, total footprint—so, if we are able to cut some of the walking and lifting, that will definitely make it a better, safer and more productive environment for our associates,” he said.

Healey packed a product into a box with instruction from Sushalskyy at one point during the tour. Asked about the experience, she told WHAV, “I have a newfound appreciation for the deliveries that end up at my house, I guess. Very simple, I’ll tell you that. They really have it wired and have it down.”

After the Amazon ceremony, the governor went on to visit North Andover High School and MassRobotics, an organization dedicated to expanding robotics innovation, in celebration of the first day of National Robotics Week.

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