Walmart's East Texas distribution is ready for the future thanks to cutting-edge new technology.
Walmart is making headway on its commitment to transform its 42 regional distribution centers into high-tech automation centers. The retailer’s Palestine, Texas, facility has officially come online, and boasts revolutionary new technology with artificial intelligence-powered software systems, robotics and automation to sort, store, retrieve and pack merchandise that is then shipped to stores.
The retrofit of the 1.2 million-square-foot East Texas facility is part of a larger initiative to modernize Walmart’s supply chain by increasing the speed, efficiency and safety at which products are distributed. The new automation centers are able to provide faster product intake, increased inventory accuracy and more building capacity. The technology helps increase associate safety and also provides new job opportunities including cell operators, maintenance technicians and others.
“Adding game-changing automation and AI-powered software systems to this facility will revolutionize an already impressive operation, changing the way we distribute products to stores, and we’re just getting started,” said Mike Gray, SVP of supply chain operations at Walmart.
Walmart showcased its commitment to East Texas during the grand opening ceremony for the facility by presenting two $2,000 donations to local school districts, as well as a $3,000 donation to the East Texas Food Bank.
“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 of Walmart’s regional distribution center #6036. “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.”
Walmart is further modernizing its supply chain and order fulfillment operations with its recent acquisition of Boston-based robotics automation company Alert Innovation. Alert Innovation’s technology will allow the retailer to leverage its 4,700-store footprint for storage and fulfillment, meaning orders can be fulfilled quickly and conveniently through pickup and delivery.
Last month, Walmart officially opened its first “next-gen” fulfillment center in Joliet, Ill., southwest of Chicago. The 1.1-million-square-foot site is set up for maximum efficiency, using advanced robotics and machine learning to cut down a manual 12-step process to a patent-pending five-step process. It's the first of four planned fulfillment centers.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.