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Walmart Turns Attention to High-Tech Perishable Distribution Centers

Company's grocery transformation includes new automated facilities, expansions and upgrades
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Pallet wrap Walmart dc
Walmart is going high-tech in several of its perishable distribution centers, with features like automatic pallet wrapping and handling.

Walmart announced enhancements to its supply chain this week, sharing details about its high-tech perishable distribution centers. In an article posted on the company website, Dave Guggina, EVP of supply chain operations at Walmart U.S., said that the improvements represent the retailer’s next steps in its supply chain modernization.

According to Guggina, Walmart is set to open its second automated perishable DC in Lancaster, Texas, followed by sites in Wellford, S.C., Belvidere, Ill. and Pilesgrove, N.J. The first of this kind opened in 2021 in Shafter, Calif.

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In addition to the high-tech facilities, Walmart is expanding its traditional perishable DCs. More than 500,000 square feet of automation will be added to sites in Mankato, Minn., Mebane, N.C., Garrett, Ind., and Shelbyville, Tenn. 

Meantime, another perishable DC in Winter Haven, Fla., is also undergoing a tech retrofit. “Our goal is to learn more about the feasibility and requirements of retrofitting an existing grocery building with automation technology – similar to how we have approached our ambient distribution center in Brooksville, Florida,” Guggina wrote.

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The new construction projects, expansions and upgrades reflect advances in automation and Walmart’s ever-growing business. “That’s why we’re adding state-of-the-art tech to our facilities: to enable greater speed and capacity that allows us to serve customers even more reliably. For example, these high-tech DCs can store double the number of cases and process more than twice the volume of a traditional perishable DC, more than doubling the number of cases processed per hour,” Guggina pointed out.

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Ultimately, he added, automation speeds the business and reduces physical demands on workers. For example, technology allows associates who previously stacked cases to shift to a role operating equipment and potentially moving up to manager positions.

Each week, about 240 million customers and members visit Walmart’s approximately 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.1 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2024 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Walmart one of its Retailers of the Century

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