‘While You Were Sleeping’: Crews working long after ‘prime time’ help Amazon deliver

Workers at Schertz Fulfillment Center among many that fill online orders

With the click of a mouse on their home computers or the tap of a screen on their mobile phones, people place orders for items online at all times of the day and night.

SAN ANTONIO – With the click of a mouse on their home computers or the tap of a screen on their mobile phones, people place orders for items online at all times of the day and night.

Meanwhile, inside a huge building in Schertz, teams of workers are just as busy around the clock filling orders placed through the Amazon website.

“Your body gets used to it after a while. I got used to it and it's not as hard as it seems,” said Tatiyanna Simon, who works the overnight shift.

She is one of hundreds of employees who are up and at work there while most other people are sleeping.

“My wife works during the day and I work during the night so it's a great way for us to take care of our family,” she said.

Simon spends her nights in a section of the huge warehouse known as the “pick area.”

Large pods loaded with a variety of items glide along a track embedded in the floor right up to her work station.

Based on the orders that show up on her computer screen, Simon selects the correct items from those pods, then sends them down a conveyor belt to another area where they will be packaged and shipped out.

While a lot of the work is handled by people like her, robots also play a big role in this operation.

“We have a lot of great systems in place to help us keep track of everything, what's going on with our freight coming in,” said Schuyler Juarez.

As a stow process assistant for Amazon, Juarez keeps track of the products as they arrive at the fulfillment center from the manufacturers.

While it’s a job that demands a lot of attention at any time of day, Juarez said he prefers the overnight shift because it comes with perks.

“I definitely enjoy that I don't have to put up with any of the traffic when I'm coming or going home,” he said.

Working overnights took a lot of getting used to for Santos Garcia, who had spent about six months on the day shift.

“At first it was a little overwhelming but the thing about me is I like challenges,” Garcia said.

As an area manager, challenges are part of his job.

He oversees nearly 50 workers in his department each night.

Inbound Operations Manager Michael Morrison has to keep track of about twice as many staff members in a building that has nearly twice the square footage of the AT&T Center.

His focus, though, is on what they are putting out, making sure it is top quality.

“Nobody wants a damaged box showing up to the front doorstep,” Morrison said. “They want the product to look exactly how they would pull it off any other shelf.”

The goal for all of them is to do a prime job for Amazon during hours that extend well beyond prime time.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.