Walmart plans ‘next-generation’ fulfillment centers, more than 4,000 tech jobs.


BENTONVILLE — Walmart supply-chain executives said Thursday that the company is building four highly automated “next-generation” fulfillment centers over the next three years that will create more than 4,000 tech jobs.

These jobs are in addition to the 20,000 new jobs Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said the company was adding to bolster its supply-chain operations. These new fulfillment centers will need workers such as control technicians, quality audit analysts and flow managers.

The first center will open this summer in Joliet, Ill., said Michael Prince, Walmart’s vice president of supply chain innovation and automation.

Walmart is working with a tech firm called Knapp to develop an automated, high-density storage system that streamlines a 12-step manual process to five steps.

Besides being less physically demanding than the 12-step process, the new system will also double the number of customer orders a center can fulfill in a day and double the storage capacity of Walmart’s current fulfillment centers.

Also, the four next-generation centers alone could provide 75% of the U.S. with next-day or two-day shipping on millions of items, Prince said.

Prince and Srini Venkatesan, executive vice president of Walmart Global Tech, introduced the new centers at a media day session that’s part of Walmart’s annual week of employee festivities.

In another session, Walmart said it’s bringing all its in-house training programs together under one umbrella and taking them worldwide.

The Bentonville-based retailer’s Walmart Academy has offered in-person and digital retail training to U.S. workers since 2016, the company said, Now, Walmart’s 2.3 million employees worldwide can access the same job-specific training as well as new leadership courses.

Lorraine Stomski, Walmart’s senior vice president of learning and leadership, said the global focus is part of the $1 billion investment Walmart announced last year to provide its U.S. workers with career-driven training and development over the five years,

The expanded Walmart Academy programming will focus on three areas, Stomski said: developing on-the-job skills; helping employees build new skills and prepare for future career opportunities; and building leadership skills for managers.

Walmart has more than 200 academies across the U.S., plus a mobile app and virtual courses, so all workers can access the training they need.

The global Walmart Academy will include the College2Career program that Walmart announced May 15. That program gives recent college grads or students close to graduating with training to take newly created positions called emerging coaches. The company aims to move the emerging coaches into high-paying store manager positions within two years.


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