Walmart to build 'hi-tech' distribution centre to improve grocery supply chain
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.”
- Grocery delivery company Instacart is now valued at $7bn
- Walmart Canada invests $175mn to modernise stores and create omnichannel experience
- Alibaba and Marine Harvest create partnership to meet growing demand for salmon in China
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.
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”