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Walmart Acquires Robotics Company to Help Automate Fulfillment

Walmart is making more investments to bolster its supply chain.

The big box retailer on Thursday announced its acquisition of Alert Innovation, a robotics company that will help the company automate its order fulfillment process. Walmart will use this technology across its 4,700 stores to help fulfill orders more quickly.

Walmart had previously utilized Alert technology in its Market Fulfillment Centers, or fulfillment warehouses build alongside or inside certain stores that speed up the delivery fulfillment process.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to modernize our supply chain operations through investments in robotics and automation in our stores and distribution and fulfillment centers, creating exciting new experiences for customers that are unique to Walmart,” David Guggina, Walmart’s SVP of innovation and automation, wrote in a blog post announcing the news.

The acquisition is in line with Walmart’s goals to revamp its supply chain and introduce new high-tech fulfillment centers. In June, Walmart announced that it would build four new fulfillments centers over the next three years, which would each feature high-tech adjustments including robotics and machine learning. Walmart partnered with intelligent fulfillment solutions company Knapp to equip the centers with an automated storage system that streamlines the usually 12-step fulfillment process into just five steps.

The first of of these centers opened in Joliet, Ill. last month.

In addition to advancements to its fulfillment centers, Walmart has announced ambitious hiring goals to staff its supply chains. In March, Walmart said it planned to hire more than 50,000 workers to staff its U.S. stores, offices and supply chain facilities in Q1. The company said that the average wage for supply chain associates is $20.37 per hour and its average U.S. hourly wage is $17 an hour.

And in September, Walmart announced a goal to hire 40,000 new associates — both seasonal and full-time — in roles across stores, delivery, customer service and truck driving. In April, Walmart rolled out a truck driver training program and said drivers can now make up to $110,000 in their first year with the company, with the chance to earn even more over time.

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