Walmart to open second high-tech consolidation center

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A new facility will leverage automated technology and add efficiency to Walmart’s supply chain (Photo: Business Wire).

Walmart is expanding on its model of an automated supply chain facility for receiving, sorting and shipping freight.

In August 2022, the discount giant will open a high-tech consolidation center in Lebanon, Pa. The new 400,000-sq.-ft. facility’s automated technology is designed to enable three times more volume to flow throughout the center and help Walmart deliver the right product to the right store, so customers can find the products they need, according to the retailer.

The new Lebanon consolidation center will service all 42 regional distribution centers across the U.S., with plans to service fulfillment centers in the near future.

[Read more: Walmart brings automation to regional distribution centers]

This center will be the second of its kind in Walmart’s supply chain. The first, located in Colton, Calif., opened in 2019. Consolidation centers have a specialized role in moving products quickly to store shelves. Each has the ability to receive general merchandise items from suppliers in smaller freight loads, known as less than a truckload (LTL), and consolidate them into larger freight loads, known as full truckloads (TL).

Then, the product is shipped to regional distribution centers where it is sorted for distribution to stores. Suppliers will now be able to deliver merchandise to one singular location for consolidation, instead of shipping separate orders for each of the 42 regional distribution centers.

“We’ve made continued investments in our people, facilities and technology to ensure we have the right product, in the right place, at the right time,” said Mike Gray, senior VP, supply chain operations at Walmart. “As part of these investments, the Lebanon facility will provide even more opportunities for small to medium-sized suppliers who do not ship nationwide, the ability to provide product to all 4,700 Walmart stores.”

“Walmart is creating the future of supply chain—a modern system that pairs the latest in software and automation technologies, with a highly trained and specialized workforce of Walmart associates—to disrupt the industry as we know it,” said David Guggina, senior VP of innovation & automation, Walmart U.S.

Once staffed, Walmart will employ 1,000 associates at the Lebanon consolidation center.

Walmart adds supply chain capacity
The new consolidation facility is part of a broader initiative to add more capacity into Walmart’s supply chain as the retailer prepares for growth. Walmart has been ramping up its supply chain infrastructure, from opening a new fulfillment center dedicated to e-commerce and third-party marketplace orders in Shippensburg, Pa. to  expanding its successful pilot of store-based, high-tech “local fulfillment centers.”

More recently, the discount giant said it will fulfill online orders placed on from a hub in Salt Lake City, scheduled to open in summer 2022. The company also plans to build a high-tech distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries in Spartanburg County, S.C., as well as two high-tech supply chain hubs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and a high-tech center in Lebanon, Tenn. where human associates, artificial intelligence (AI) software, and automated robots working together to ship orders to customers as efficiently as possible.

Walmart has also begun using multi-temperature autonomous box trucks from Gatik to move online grocery orders from a fulfillment-only dark store to a nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market store in its headquarters city of Bentonville, Ark. 

In addition, Walmart has built a tech platform that powers its last-mile delivery ecosystem. Agnostic to supply and demand, and built around its own marketplace, the platform uses automation and machine learning to turn a near-infinite number of factors into usable data.

Based in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and clubs under 46 banners in 24 countries and e-commerce websites.