Amazon recently started offering tours of select fulfillment centers across the country and they happen to have tours available in Illinois! I couldn’t help but book a tour for our family to check out what goes on behind the scenes. The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Monee is the only facility in our area that offers tours and you can click here to book your free tour.
What to Know Before Booking
- Children ages 6 years old and older are allowed on the tour, but you are not allowed to bring infants or any children under 6.
- The entire experience lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on how many questions your group asks along the way.
Amazon Tour Review
As expected, the facility is huge. There aren’t visitor spots in the parking lot, so you can park anywhere in the lot. When you enter the building there is a security window and they told us to wait in the lobby for the tour guide to come out at our scheduled time. We got there 15 minutes early as the confirmation email suggested, but we found that to be unnecessary. However, once the three tour guides came out and checked us in, we did not wait to enter and start the tour, so don’t be late or you will miss it!
Before the Tour
After entering, we were brought into a conference room. The warehouse floor is loud, but they gave us headphones which dampened the ambient noise and allowed us to hear the main tour guide even if we were in the back of the group. Our group had about 12 people, which seemed to be close to capacity. When we saw the presentation slides come up, we were a little worried that we would be stuck in the conference room for a long time, but it only took about 5-10 minutes. They went through some basic information about Amazon and it’s founder, Jeff Bezos, the mission of Amazon, the Monee facility’s local outreach programs that they participate in, and safety when you go out on the floor.
Definitely go to the bathroom before the tour begins, especially if you bring kids. Although they offer to take you during the tour if necessary, it’s not along the path and you will have to catch up again.
The Monee, IL Amazon Fulfillment Center (aka MDW7 to the employees) is 850,000 square feet and handles all of the small and medium-sized products, most of which come from small to medium-sized businesses and include all products that are 18 inches and smaller.
Walking Tour of the Amazon Fulfillment Center
The tour guides consist of people that work on the floor in various jobs, so you could ask them questions about how things worked throughout the tour. They said the tour would last about an hour and ours was 50 minutes.
There is a lot of walking and stairs. An elevator is available and they seemed accommodating with special needs, but they ask that you let them know ahead of time. We walked the third floor and followed the entire process from when products come in at the docks from trucks to packed boxes going to all of us who order from them.
We were expecting robotic arms and more equipment when in reality it’s a lot of people handling the products multiple times. However, there are a lot of aspects of the tour that were impressive. Their robots look like huge Roombas that move and rearrange product towers to bring them to various people either storing the incoming products or pulling product to be sent for an order. You can see the orange robots in action in the photograph below. It looks simple, but when you think about all of the coordination and programming, it’s pretty impressive! These robots can lift up to 1500 lbs.
There are thousands of conveyors bringing totes, envelopes, and boxes to various places in the building to be filled, checked, labeled, checked again, and sent out to be delivered. Pusher arms send the boxes down different chutes depending on where they are going.
At the end of the tour you go back to the conference room where they give you either an Amazon water bottle or infinity cube. They also give you a brochure about Amazon and the company.
The Bottom Line
The tour is definitely interesting if you haven’t seen the inside of a packaging factory before. It’s mind blowing how automated the ordering process is, especially considering that all of the products are kept randomly in different bins and shelves. The robots that move the product towers seem to dance gracefully and seamlessly across the warehouse floor, bringing the correct product to stationary workstations and the people that work there are friendly. The tour guides sprinkle little bits about job opportunities at Amazon and brand loyalty throughout the tour, but we definitely were able to see the facility and how it works.
Although there wasn’t as much automated machinery as we thought there would be, this tour ranks higher than the Albanese Confectionery Factory Tour in Indiana where you just look through the windows at candy being made and the Jelly Belly tours in Wisconsin where you ride through their storage warehouse and watch videos on TVs along the way.
How to Prepare for Your Amazon Tour
- You need to wear closed-toed shoes (we recommend gym shoes because there is a lot of walking)
- They check you in with your drivers license, so make sure you bring it in with you. People under 18 years old do not need to bring an ID.
- Be prepared to tie your hair up so it is above your shoulders. They had extra hair ties when we got there, but I would bring one just in case.
- They say that no photographs are allowed, but halfway through they invited us to take pictures, so take your phone with you.
Amazon Fulfillment Center
6605 Monee-Manhattan Road
Monee, IL 60449
Click here to schedule a free tour.