One of Amazon’s largest distribution centres in the country lies right on our doorstep - supplying the South coast with tens of thousands of parcels a day.

The site in Hounsdown in Totton, known as DS02 Southampton, opened in 2019 and is one of the global company's 30 UK warehouses that process parcels ready for delivery.

The 180-strong team, known as 'associates', are entering their busiest time of the year, with an extra 20 staff joining for the peak season.

READ MORE: Southampton's most popular products bought on Amazon

Between the November sales which culminate on Black Friday this week and Christmas, orders spike by a third.

Daily Echo: The warehouse workers uses technology to help them work more efficiently

A new 'super-sorter' has been installed to help boost productivity - but despite some workers' concerns that technology might eventually take their jobs, most say it makes their lives easier.

Harry Waddington, 28, is the centre manager and explained his centre’s role in the Amazon food chain.

He said: “The process starts at the Amazon Fulfilment Centres– these are often huge warehouses that receive the order and pack the item into the specific box."

Daily Echo: Delivery station manager Harry WaddingtonDelivery station manager Harry Waddington (Image: NQ)

He added: “The Fulfilment Centres then organise the boxes to be sent to different delivery stations. The boxes are then sent overnight to us at the Amazon Distribution Centres.

“We then organise the parcels onto different delivery routes, ensuring drivers are making the most efficient deliveries.”

The delivery centre has five waves of 30 vans taking parcels each day – but in the peak period there are often seven or eight waves.

The turnover is so fast that even parcels ordered just before midnight will arrive at their customer’s doors the following day.

There are also Amazon Distribution Centres in Bournemouth and Poole that help get parcels to Amazon customers in the south.

Harry said that in Southampton in 2023, the most popular items cropping up on the warehouse shelves have been air fryers and watersports-related products like paddle boards and kayaks.

Daily Echo: Air fryers have been a very popular item this yearAir fryers have been a very popular item this year (Image: NQ)The centre manager said at DS02, Amazon puts a huge emphasis on supporting staff.

He added: “We do a number of fund raising and charity events, but we try and keep these issues close to home by supporting charities that affect our staff.

“For example, one of our staff members had a premature birth earlier in the year. She was supported by a neonatal charity.

“Amazon will be making a huge donation to that charity for the fantastic support they were able to offer our colleague.”

Daily Echo: The new machine is a conveyor belt that scans items and sorts them into the correct isleThe new machine is a conveyor belt that scans items and sorts them into the correct isle (Image: NQ)

The New Technology

The new technology at DS02 is already widely used in America and is just being introduced into our shores.

Installed only three weeks ago, the machine is a conveyor belt that scans items and sorts them into the correct isle.

The conveyor then drops products onto a piece of fabric which loosens and tightens with a box below - known as an 'aisle hopper' - which stops workers getting a bad back bending over constantly.

This parcel is then sorted into the relevant aisle ready to be packed into delivery vans and dropped at customers’ doors with top efficiency.

 “This is a prime example of technology being used alongside staff for maximum effect”, said Harry.

Before, the sorting would have been done manually – slowing down the distribution cycle.

The threat of technology and AI

With Amazon being an innovator of the online shopping industry, much concern has been raised about the growing threat of robots and AI taking staff jobs.

Robots do not need to be paid, go on holiday or take time off sick – malfunctions notwithstanding – saving companies a lot of money.

Harry said: “I do recognise that there is a lot of concern around the idea of robots replacing jobs.

"However, we built our technology around our workforce with the aim of supporting them.

“Without robots and technology, it would be impossible for us to work as efficiently as we do.”

Warehouse worker, Maria-Cosmina Gogea, 46, has been working in DS02 for five years and helps train new workers that have just joined.

Daily Echo: Maria-Cosmina Gogea has been working in DS02 for five years Maria-Cosmina Gogea has been working in DS02 for five years (Image: NQ)She said: “The technology is good as it simplifies our job and makes it easier.

“I’m not worried at the moment, but I constantly see the threat of robots replacing jobs on the news and on social media.

“It should remain in place to help us – not replace us. We have seen first hand how this can support us in our jobs.

“A robot can’t problem solve or think quickly – only people can do that.”

Claire Matthews, 46, manages the delivery drivers at DS02 after starting as a driver herself three years ago.

Daily Echo: Claire Matthews manages the delivery drivers at DS02Claire Matthews manages the delivery drivers at DS02 (Image: NQ)She said: “My drivers are scared to death they are all going to be replaced by delivery drones.

“This is a concern among drivers – but whether or not is a likely change I do not know. A drone can’t confirm that someone has a delivery.

“I know we live in a digital age but many of our drivers have a great chat with elderly residents that just love that face-to-face contact.”