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Walmart opens fourth next-generation fulfillment center

Walmart DC in Greencastle, PA (Business Wire)
Walmart opens next generation of high-tech fulfillment centers in Greencastle, Penn. (Photo: Business Wire)

Walmart continues expanding its high-tech supply chain facility model.

The discounter has opened its fourth next-generation fulfillment center. The 1.5 million-sq.-ft. facility is located in Greencastle, Penn., and being opened by Walmart with the intention of enabling faster order fulfillment. The Greencastle fulfillment center will employ more than 1,000 associates, and Walmart is currently hiring for a variety of positions, including tech-focused jobs. 

The high-tech facility will feature an automated, high-density storage and retrieval system that streamlines a manual, 12-step process down to five steps. It will also offer double the storage capacity and twice the number of customer orders Walmart can fulfill in a day, expanding next- or two-day shipping.

Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), a fee-based program providing services including storing, picking, packing and shipping, along with the handling of returns and customer service, will also leverage the space to fulfill third-party Walmart Marketplace items.  

Walmart’s next gen fulfillment center model – a closer look

This facility is the fourth of five state-of-the-art fulfillment centers dedicated to e-commerce Walmart intends to open by 2026. The first location opened in summer 2022 in Joliet, Ill., servicing customers across Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. 

That location was followed by next-generation facilities that opened in McCordsville, Ind. and Lancaster, Tex. Walmart intends to open the fifth center in Stockton, Calif. in 2026.

The high-tech order fulfillment system, developed in partnership with intelligent automation technology provider Knapp, operates following five steps:

  • Unload: Sellers and suppliers send merchandise in cases to a fulfillment center. As the cases arrive, associates unload the trailers and place cases onto a conveyor belt where they’re routed to receiving.
  • Receive: At receiving, an associate breaks the case apart and places the individual items into a tote. The tote is fed into a massive, automated storage system where a shuttle transports it to one of millions of designated locations. The storage system is designed to account for every square-inch, spanning from floor to ceiling in a custom-built structure designed to hold the inventory.
  • Pick: When a customer places an online order, the system goes into action, retrieving their items and shuttling the needed totes to an associate at a picking station. According to Walmart, previously associates would have walked up to nine miles per day, picking items from multiple floors of shelving spread out over hundreds of thousands of square feet of space.
  • Pack: Simultaneously, a custom box is created to fit the exact measurements of the order. In the pack area, Walmart estimates associates can assemble up to four orders at once and send packages to be shipped in less than 30 minutes after the customer clicks to order.
  • Ship: The completed order is then automatically taped, labeled, and routed to its designated zone, where it’s then shipped to its final destination.

The retailer is strategically locating these fulfillment centers to pair most effectively with its 4,700 stores and 210 distribution centers to get orders to customers fast and efficiently.

Walmart previously said it initially planned four centers alone could provide 75% of the U.S. population with next- or two-day shipping on millions of items. Combined with its traditional fulfillment centers, the retailer said it would be able to reach 95% of the U.S. population with next- or two-day shipping and could also offer same-day delivery to 80% of the U.S. population using its stores.

“Walmart is paving the way for good jobs and great careers in the south-central Pennsylvania region with the Greencastle fulfillment center,” said Karisa Sprague, senior VP, fulfillment network operations for Walmart U.S. “These tech-powered jobs will drive the future of Walmart’s continued promise of speedy shipping and delivery for customers on the East Coast. Our next generation fulfillment centers are the perfect example of how we are a people-led, tech-powered retailer.”

Headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries.

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