Walmart to expand partnership with Symbotic for supply chain efficiency


by Kim Souza, Talk Business & Politics

Jul 14, 2021


Walmart said Wednesday (July 14) it plans to place Symbotic robotic technology in 25 of its 42 regional distribution centers (RDC’s). The retail giant did not disclose the cost but it’s part of the company’s $14 billion budgeted for this fiscal year for supply chain automation and other areas of the business.


Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations at Walmart U.S., said the retailer has tested Symbotic technology in its Brookville, Fla., distribution center since 2017. He said advancements in the technology from Wilmington, Mass.-based Symbotic now allow for automated sorting, stack and store, retrieval and packing freight onto pallets.


“We’re using automation to revolutionize intake, increase accuracy and change how freight is handled at our regional distribution centers (RDCs),” Metzger said. “This high-tech automation system will fundamentally alter how products get into stores.”


Metzger said product now arrives at RDCs and is either cross-docked where it is sent to stores or warehoused until it is needed. Products are moved or stored manually by a human workforce driving forklifts. When it’s time for the store-bound truck to be refilled, someone is tasked with packing the 53-foot trailer in what Metzger calls “a human game of Tetris for transit.” When the truck arrives at the store, employees unload the merchandise into the backroom of a store. Items are then scanned into the system and sent out to the sales floor...