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Walmart issued new commitments on plastic reduction at its annual supplier forum.

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Walmart is piloting a new programme to move goods directly on trains.

It has developed its own collection of intermodal containers and is using its own drivers to move them from rail hubs to Walmart stores.  The pilot was launched in the summer of 2018 and is operating in Southern California.  This is an innovative step for a retailer, but demonstrates how understanding, and ownership of supply chains is changing within the industry.

Reducing delays

Traditionally, a third party would be used for drayage and by moving this in-house, Walmart is able to take over this part of the supply chain and own it directly.  Having immediate control over this element of the chain gives Walmart the opportunity to save hours, and potentially days of transit time per container in peak season.

Ken Braubach, Vice President of Inbound Logistics at Walmart said, “When we give it to a third-party provider, we don’t necessarily have the control.  We are at the third party’s discretion of how they operate and optimize our network – whereas we have that capability when we move it ourselves.”

Store compatible

The new container was designed by Walmart and includes chassis and double-stacking capability, combined with a roll-up door making warehouse and store deliveries easier.  In comparison to the swing doors often found on rail containers, the roll-up doors were designed to optimise access, and ensure efficiency for unloading by store associates.

A pilot, for now…

The pilot is operating a small number of the intermodal containers, and Braunbach has stated that this is a “supplemental or a strategic opportunity to be more efficient.”  Walmart has asserted it is still looking to work alongside its intermodal partners, but with the volume of freight it moves across the country, there could be an opportunity for the pilot to grow outside of the current testing area.

Walmart has taken a sideways step in its efforts to rollout same-day delivery to US customers by ending its partnership with Deliv .

Walmart began bolstering its partnerships with third-parties last year to improve its online delivery coverage. Deliv was one of its earliest delivery partners, supporting efforts to offer the same day service in 100 US cities.

Existing and new partnerships

Despite the mutual decision, Walmart continues to partner with other businesses offering a similar service. These include DoorDash and Postmates. It also agreed contracts with four new businesses in January – Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie – reflecting the scale of its ambition.

Walmart spokeswoman, Molly Blakeman “As with any pilot, the intent is to learn. And we ultimately came to the conclusion with Deliv that while their platform is a good delivery option, it was not the best fit for our program at this time.”

Bold plans

Same-day grocery delivery is currently available in 800 of Walmart’s more than 5,000 US stores, and it plans to add 800 more this year.

Checkout the Walmart hub page for more on its supply chain activities.

Walmart is building a new consolidation centre in Colton, California

An automated site

In July 2019, Walmart will open a new high-tech consolidation centre.  The centre will be 340,000 sq. ft, and will utilise automated technology to receive, sort and ship freight.  It is expected that the new facility will be able to process three times more volume than other consolidation centres, and it will be the most efficient consolidation centre in Walmart’s supply chain.  

Source: Walmart

Part of the broader strategy

This investment is in addition to the new high-tech distribution centre that was announced last year, and shows a continued investment in supply chain by the retailer.  The technology at the consolidation centre will allow Walmart to scan and count products on arrival, which will enable it to promptly address any inaccuracies in orders.

By receiving of a higher volume of goods, the aspiration is to make regional distribution centres more efficient. Geno Bell, senior director of the consolidation centre network said “With this new technology, we can be surgical and responsive in getting merchandise into stores.”

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