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Walmart Has Opened Its First High-Tech Fulfillment Center In Joliet, Illinois

Walmart has opened the first of four new high-tech fulfillment centers.

The big-box retailer opened a new fulfillment center in Joliet, Ill., the first of four “Next Generation” centers slated to open over the next three years. Walmart leaders, government officials and community members celebrated the opening of the new 1.1 million square-foot center, located at 3501 S. Brandon Road, on Wednesday.

Walmart in June announced that it would build four new fulfillments centers over the next three years, each of which would feature high-tech adjustments including robotics and machine learning. The big-box retailer partnered with intelligent fulfillment solutions company Knapp to outfit the centers with an automated storage system that streamlines the usually 12-step fulfillment process into just five steps.

“As the first-of-its-kind for Walmart, our newly opened facility introduces an array of opportunities to our associates, including brand new tech-focused jobs,” said James Bright III, the general manager of the new fulfillment center.

According to Walmart, these four centers will have the capacity to deliver next-day or two-day shipping on millions of items to 75% of the U.S. population and will employ more than 4,000 associates, many in new tech-focused jobs such as control technicians, quality audit analysts and flow managers.

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.

Walmart said it would open these four centers in locations that complement its 4,700 stores and 210 distribution centers.

In August, Walmart said it would cut hundreds of corporate roles after the retailer slashed its outlook for Q2 as consumer spending softened, especially in discretionary categories like apparel.

Earlier this month, 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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