Walmart kicks off automation of 25 regional distribution centers

Supply chain EVP Joe Metzger says Symbiotic partnership will ‘fundamentally alter how products get to stores’


Russell Redman, Supermarket News

Jul 14, 2021


Following a multiyear pilot, Walmart plans to roll out warehouse automation from Symbotic to drive speed and efficiency at regional distribution centers (RDCs).


Plans call for Walmart to implement Symbotic’s robotics technology in 25 of its 42 RDCs, Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations at Walmart U.S., said in a blog post on Wednesday. The scalable system encompasses a fleet of fully autonomous robots and proprietary software to improve throughput while boosting warehouse capacity, according to Wilmington, Mass.-based Symbiotic, which said its solution will cut the time it takes to unload, sort and stock freight in Walmart stores.


Metzger described Symbiotic’s system as “a game-changer” for Walmart. “This move will fundamentally alter how products get to stores,” he noted.


“Right now, product arrives at one of our regional distribution centers and is either cross-docked or warehoused until we need it. The products are moved or stored manually. When it’s time for the product to go to a store, someone is tasked with packing a 53-foot trailer in a human game of Tetris for transit. When the truck arrives at a store, our associates unload it manually and get the items where they need to be,” Metzger explained...


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