A behind-the-scenes look at Cornwall, Ont.'s mega Walmart warehouse
CORNWALL, ONT. -- Walmart is one of Canada's biggest retailers, and to handle all that merchandise, you need a big warehouse.
One of them is located just southeast of Ottawa in Cornwall, Ont. and it was just updated in December to handle more product to fulfill more orders.
"We are over 1.36 million square feet here in this facility alone," said general manager Leslie Cassleman. "In the eastern campus, which is what we call ourselves, we have four distribution centres along with our fleet and store. We are employing over 2,000 associates here in Cornwall."
The facility employs 750 workers at 2401 SCM Way.
To put the size of the building into perspective, the CN Tower, with a height of 553 metres, could be laid on its side inside the building.
Just walking around the perimeter is almost a 2-kilometre walk.
Cassleman says Walmart chose Cornwall for its ideal location when the facility first opened in 2000.
"It's a hub off the 401 and it's perfect for our carriers and our stores in order for us to flow the goods down the highway," she said.
The distribution centre services 136 stores from Kingston to the east coast, including all of the Maritimes.
"We are the eastern centre hub; there are other distribution centres in Canada but we service half of Ontario and all of Quebec and the east coast from Cornwall," Cassleman noted.
Recently, Walmart Canada invested $20 million to add a 40,000-square-foot section in this location, calling it goods to person. It was completed in December 2021.
"What it's allowing us to do is flow the product to the store," Cassleman said. "When you think of end to end, this is going to get to our consumers faster and more efficiently."
Using robotics, 60 shuttles pick and load grey totes with small, easier to move items constantly.
"Once the order comes they go in sequence, in order," said goods to person operations manager Hassan al Mallah. "They go pick up the totes, the items, they bring it here to the picking station which diverts it into another bin that need to be shipped to the stores."
Fulfilling an order takes less than a minute.
"We can fulfill up to 60,000 orders over the 16 hours period," al Mallah said. "There are 50,000 tote locations in this structure, all filled with different items."
Once filled, those totes then head upstairs where they'll meet in the merge area.
"Which is like the superhighway of the distribution centre," says Cassleman. "it's where you see everything come together from all around the building and heads down to our shipping department on it's way to the stores."
Thousands of boxes and totes travel on a conveyor system that is more than 27 kilometres long.
The end of the conveyors meet at the loading docks, where trucks are filled and approximately 250 trailers come in and out each day.
"We're like a world class supply chain and that's what we want to accomplish here," Cassleman added. "Every time something is scanned in at a store, shelves need product to be replaced, so that product drops into our systems here in our building and we can continue to flow freight to the stores at all times."
The aim is to have those store shelves or customer orders filled within 24 hours.
"Our feedback from our associates here with the new technology has been super positive," she added. "Software has been simple, easier to use and again it's so ergonomically better for them, products coming to them it's more efficient and it's just easier on their physical bodies."
Cassleman says the company is in need for more workers in the Cornwall area, with more than 200 jobs available.
"We've been with Walmart Canada here now in the Cornwall area for 25 years," Cassleman said. "For example, I've been here 22 years now and started on the floor and made it to general manger. I just think it's important for everyone to know there's future here and we are hiring and there is lots of job availability both in the warehouse and online. We have jobs where you can work from home."
Anyone interested in applying can find available jobs on Walmart's careers page.