Walmart, Bentonville, Ark., announced plans to build a 340,000-square-foot, high-tech consolidation center in Colton, Calif.

The center, what is said to be the first in Walmart’s supply chain to receive, sort and ship freight, features automated technology that will enable three times more volume to flow throughout the center, making it the most efficient consolidation center in Walmart’s supply chain.

This Walmart-owned center, which will open in July with 150 full-time associates, can move three times as many cases. It will grow to employ more than 600 associates by 2021.

Consolidation centers have a specialized role in moving products quickly on their journey to the customer. These centers receive less than a truckload (LTL) of general merchandise items from suppliers, consolidate quantities of this freight in a full truckload (TL) and ship to regional distribution centers. This allows Walmart’s 42 regional centers to focus on distributing products to stores.

The new consolidation center enables suppliers to fill one massive order instead of 42. New software automatically scans and counts the product immediately when it arrives and documents the information in Walmart’s systems.

Automating the receiving upstream in the consolidation center allows supply chain teams to group products based on how they are stocked, making unloading simpler.

“We’re going to make the regional distribution centers more efficient,” says Geno Bell, senior director of the consolidation center network.

This new center is also a warehouse, and allows flexibility for the company to react to unexpected events such as sudden changes in weather.

“With this new technology, we can be surgical and responsive in getting merchandise into stores,” Bell adds.