Walmart to build 'hi-tech' distribution centre to improve grocery supply chain

By Laura Mullan
Walmart has revealed that it plans to break ground on a new high-tech distribution centre for fresh and frozen groceries next month.

Walmart has revealed that it plans to break ground on a new high-tech distribution centre for fresh and frozen groceries next month.

The world’s largest retailer said that the distribution centre will deploy WITRON technology to process grocery perishables like produce, eggs, dairy, flowers and frozen foods.

The technology uses automation to process products moving in and out of the facility and hopes to enhance Walmart's grocery supply chain. 

“Every product is measured and documented so that we know how to handle it,” explained Shayne Wahlmeier, one of the engineers on the project.

“A computer algorithm shows all the cases ordered for a given store and determines how to palletize them to maximise the space on a pallet or trailer.

"It also takes into account density – what’s crushable, what’s not.”

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The facility will be located in Shafter, California, and is expected to begin operations in 2020. It will support 200 Walmart stores. 

Walmart claims that the new distribution centre will be able to move 40% more product than a regular distribution centre and that it will be able to do so with “more efficiency, greater throughput, and more consistency.”

The American retailer said that the new distribution centre will also create hundreds of new jobs as they will need more technology-focused or STEM employees.

Tim Cooper, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for Walmart, said: “The high-tech distribution centre in Shafter will allow us to move product to stores and clubs faster so that we can better serve customers.”

The announcement is the latest in a string of investments Walmart has made in technology.

The retailer has launched an online grocery pickup service powered by Alphabot and it has invested in an automated floor scrubber, for example. 

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