With updated technology, rows of conventional racking, increased dock space and high-density storage, a new facility will provide and distribute Church materials, books, manuals, scriptures and temple clothing to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in 180 countries around the world.
The new Global Distribution Services Center at 385 S. 5200 West in Salt Lake City is expected to process 40 million units per year — sending an estimated 9,500 shipments a day — and account for over 75% of the volume the Church ships globally.
In his dedicatory remarks Thursday evening, June 8, Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé said the 339,000-square-foot building is ”a magnificent structure with state-of-the-art equipment, for which we are most grateful.”
On a tour of the facility before the dedication, shipping managers showed how updated technology will allow for more efficient processes and will decrease cost of and use of shipping materials — the conveyors, machinery and robotic resources will pack and move boxes quickly.
For example, three new automated box-making machines will make 500 boxes per hour built to the proper size. And the Opex, an automatic storage and retrieval system using robots called ibots that are always in motion, will allow for picks that are six times faster than before.
And the facility has about a mile and a half of conveyer systems connecting conventional and state-of-the-art equipment.
Working more efficiently and improving distribution services will support and lighten the load of Church leaders and members worldwide, said Bishop Caussé, so they can concentrate on living the gospel and serving in the Church.
“Think about areas in the world where supply-chain networks and local infrastructure are not yet mature,” Bishop Caussé said. “Our members in these areas often make tremendous sacrifices and travel long distances at great expense to buy temple garments and needed Church materials.”
The new distribution center is one key element in solving that problem. The storage and distribution functions in the building will help provide members better and easier access to the gospel resources and materials they need.
When Bishop Caussé grew up in France, the Church was fairly small in his country, but members had many learning resources available to them in French. He read the Book of Mormon when he was 11 — which was the starting point of his testimony — and said he “devoured” seminary manuals and Church history books.
“Like most members around me, I took most of these resources for granted. I thought it was a normal thing to have books, manuals, church services, programs and magazines available in my own language,” Bishop Caussé said.
Later he became aware of all the employees behind the scenes in the Church who work every day to make these resources accessible to all.
The purpose behind the work
Nelson Gonzalez, the director of Global Distribution Services, said as the department prepared for the transition to this facility, employees loaded and moved nearly 200 truckloads containing approximately 15 million items from the old location on 1700 South in Salt Lake City to this one while other employees maintained the operations and kept it running.
As he shared some of the facts and figures behind the construction and all the facility can do, he noted how the purposes of the facility are much more important — and that’s the gathering of Israel, as President Russell M. Nelson recently taught.
“We pray that this distribution operation plays a small but important role in helping our brothers and sisters around the world make and keep sacred covenants and ultimately let God prevail in their lives,” Gonzalez said.
In his remarks to the employees in the audience Thursday evening, Bishop Caussé thanked them for their diligent work.
The building is much more than a distribution center, Bishop Caussé said. “Thanks to you, its influence will spread throughout the entire world and will bless generations of members. ... It will help in the great and holy work of saving souls.”
He read from Doctrine and Covenants 64:33: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”