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Walmart brings automation to Canadian supply chain

Walmart Canada distribution robot
Walmart Canada is piloting robotic distribution solutions.

Walmart Canada is piloting an automated receiving solution.

The Canadian subsidiary of Walmart is introducing material handling robotics and automation technologies into its distribution network, kicking things off by piloting an automated receiving solution at its regional distribution center (RDC) in Calgary, Alberta.

Walmart first announced its next-gen fulfillment center model in 2022. The centers feature an automated, high-density storage system that, among other benefits, allow the retail giant to double the number of customer orders it can fulfill in a day.

The discounter currently operates a 1.1 million-sq.-ft, high-tech facility in Joliet, Ill., and plans to open three more in the U.S. during the next three years to store millions of items available on that are then picked, packed and shipped directly to customers.

Now, Walmart is also implementing robotic automation in its Canadian distribution network, with goals including making the process of getting products from trailers into the facility 90% faster than doing it manually in an effort to boost productivity, reduce strain on associates, increases shipping accuracy, and enhance data and analytics. 

Walmart Canada will roll out the automated receiving solution across its distribution network following the pilot, with other technologies to follow. As part of this investment, the company is accelerating the adoption of new technologies.

How it works 

The technology involved in Walmart Canada’s automated distribution pilot include autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) transporting received pallets of products to processing stations. Robotic depalletizers place the received pallets directly onto conveyors. 

As a last step, auto case label applicators automatically scan and apply shipping labels to packages as they flow through to the shipping dock. According to Walmart Canada, early feedback from associates at its Calgary RDC has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Walmart Canada is on a tech-powered journey and this investment ensures we can deliver for our customers in Canada, now and in the future," said Matt Kelly, VP, supply chain, Walmart Canada. "As a people-led tech-powered company, we pair exceptional talent with innovative solutions, to make our supply chain network work harder for our customers."

Walmart Canada has 16 active distribution and fulfilment centers from coast to coast, employing nearly 7,000 associates. These facilities enable the distribution of products directly to its 400 stores nationwide and bring two-day shipping to 97% of Canadian households.       

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