Walmart has been overhauling its regional distribution center in Palestine, Texas, and recently completed renovations. The 1.2 million-square-foot facility is now a high-tech automation center that modernizes a piece of Walmart’s massive supply chain network.
The new technology will leverage artificial intelligence systems, robotics, and automation to improve soring, storing, retrieving, and packing for merchandise making its way to stores.
Mike Gray, senior vice president, supply chain operations at Walmart, said that this “game-changing automation and AI-powered software” will revolutionize the operation and change the way Walmart distributes products to stores.
These tools will allow existing regional distribution centers to provide faster product intake, increase product accuracy, and expand building capacity, creating high-density, automated facilities. Rather than having manual processes around unloading trucks and preparing shipments, associates will have store- and aisle-ready pallets. This will also help improve workplace safety as well as introduce new employment opportunities, such as new cell operator and maintenance technician jobs.
The Palestine facility is just one piece of the puzzle helping to keep more than 4,700 stores stocked.
“Walmart’s Palestine distribution center has been a pillar in the community for the last 42 years, and we’re excited to transform our building into an industry-leading, high-tech distribution center,” said Marty Denney, general manager, regional distribution center #6036, Walmart U.S. “This isn’t just an investment in our facility, but also our associates, our community, and our future. I couldn't be more proud to be at the forefront of Walmart’s supply chain transformation.”
The facility, a multi-million-dollar investment, will employ nearly 1,000 Walmart associates, and more positions will become available as operations expand. Walmart associates can also participate in the company’s Live Better U program, through which they can earn a college degree in business, tech, supply chain management or other areas. The company covers all tuition and book expenses. Additionally, through Walmart Supply Chain Academies, associates are paid to receive additional training through immersive courses and coaching.
The facility's grand opening was also tied to charitable efforts. Walmart presented two $2,000 donations to local independent school districts, Grapeland and Palestine, along with a $3,000 donation to the East Texas Food Bank.
Walmart’s Supply Chain Transformation
The efforts are part of a larger strategy to renovate all 42 regional distribution centers to increase product distribution speed, efficiency, and safety.
Walmart is looking to bolster its supply chain through tech investments that will not only improve efficiency, but streamlines the entire supply chain ecosystem. The company also announced plans to build four new fulfillment centers over the next three years, and the facilities will be the "first of their kind" for Walmart, tapping people, robotics, and machine learning.
[Read more: Walmart to Build 4 Next-Gen Fulfillment Centers]
“Walmart is creating the future of supply chain — a modern system that pairs the latest in software and automation technologies, with a highly trained and specialized workforce of Walmart associates — to disrupt the industry as we know it,” said David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation, Walmart U.S in an earlier statement.