FIRST LOOK: Australia Post facility will deliver 500 jobs
AUSTRALIA Post's giant new parcel and delivery centre will be the biggest in the southern hemisphere and provide a job boom for Ipswich.
While the $240 million Redbank facility is eerily quiet at the moment, it will be abuzz with activity when it opens in October and be capable of processing up to 700,000 parcels a day at its peak.
That equals 35,000 articles being processed an hour.
Cutting-edge technology, some of it Australian firsts, will significantly increase processing capability in the 50,000 sqm warehouse, including robotic arms and automated guided vehicles and parcel picker machines.
Between 150 and 200 new jobs will be created but the rest of the 500 jobs will be sourced from other sites.
Australia Post's group chief executive officer and managing director Christine Holgate said none of the corporation's existing facilities would compare.
She said the new centre would allow Australia Post to meet the rapidly growing demands of online shopping across Queensland and the rest of the country.
"In Australia we're seeing this massive growth in e-commerce," she said.
"Last year we saw a 24 per cent growth in e-commerce in the country, which is probably the fastest growth rate we've seen.
"My personal view is that it's going to carry on for a period of time.
"The number of sales was $27.5 billion in 2018. It's going to double in the next six years."
Queensland is home to three of the top 10 postcodes for online shoppers - in Toowoomba, Mackay and Bundaberg - with growth rates well above 20 per cent.
The Sunshine State makes up almost a fifth of all online shopping across the nation.
"Ipswich is growing at like 21 per cent in e-commerce," Ms Holgate said.
She said information on applying for positions would happen "very soon".
"Coming up at Christmas, there will be somewhere between 500-1000 extra jobs... that will come from this site," she said.
New technology creating safe employment
AS the number of parcels being sent across the country grows, new technology is needed to deliver the increased volumes and do so safely.
Australia Post's group chief operating officer Bob Black said a bit over $100 million was needed for the state-of-the-art fit-out at the distribution centre at Redbank.
"We're introducing a lot of Australian firsts here," he said.
He said the most advanced pieces of technology on the site were the Japanese-made robotic arms.
"They're able to sort, between them, 80 ULDs (unit load devices) per hour so they're very highly efficient," Mr Black said.
"There's no manual intervention, no lifting, shifting or pushing.
"One of our largest injuries at Australia Post are stresses and strains from bending and shifting."
All of the 23 forklifts roaming through the site will be automated guided vehicles, which are equipped with sensors to allow them to stop immediately if they come within one metre of anything.
The automated parcel picker machine is capable of quickly unloading a box trailer and moving about 2500 parcels an hour with one operator.
"We pull the parcels straight down onto a singulator and straight into the facility," he said.
"So it's a massive increase on productivity and efficiency.
"The three really big pieces of technology are the automated parcel picker, robotic arms and automated guided vehicles."
The total 135,000 sqm site will also be home to transport operations, a maintenance facility, a 20,000 sqm awning to shade product and more.
"As a business we know how important it is to continue to invest in our workforce, especially where there are opportunities for us to retrain our people to transition from the declining letters business to our growing parcels business," he said.
The new facility is part of Australia Post's three-year, $900 million investment in parcel processing nationally.