Robot Workers
12:34 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Robots Assist Workers At New Dillard’s Shipping Center In Maumelle

Arkansas economic development officials say what was once the vacant Target Distribution Center in Maumelle is now bustling with activity for another retailer.

Dillard’s Incorporated is using the facility in Maumelle to ship merchandise from online orders all over the country. The department store chain completely renovated the 850,000 square foot center and it has space for extra growth. Julie Bull with Dillard’s says the company wanted to honor its Arkansas roots and Maumelle proved to be the perfect site for what has been dubbed the “Internet Fulfillment Center.”

Officials from Dillard's Inc. and Maumelle tour the Internet Fulfillment Center.
Credit Malcolm Glover

“[Dillard’s] began in Nashville, Arkansas in 1938. Since we opened in March of this year, the facility is more than we imagined. It’s more efficient than we hoped and it employs more people. We promised 300 [employees] and we’re up to 350,” said Bull. “It really is warming for us as Arkansas natives to be able to help out the state like this and we’re excited for what it can do for Dillard’s as well.”

Inside the center, workers are walking through aisles; climbing ramps; sifting through racks; and packaging clothes, home décor items, and a whole host of other products that have to be sent to customers. They’re also getting help with that work load from some high-tech robots.

Judy Keller is the director of community and economic development for the City of Maumelle.

“The KIVA system that [Dillard’s is] using… they’re little robots and it’s amazing that they stop for each other, they know where to go, and it’s incredible,” Keller said. “[KIVA robots] speed up the time that [workers] can complete the orders. It’s interesting and very efficient for Dillard’s.”

Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson says the new center has the potential to attract other businesses to the area.

“We appreciate them selecting Maumelle to be part of their Internet Fulfillment Center,” said Watson. “In locating [the center] here, it also helps us when we recruit other corporations to come into our industrial park, that we got a presence like Dillard’s already here. And we can have [those companies] come talk to Dillard’s, check out the work environment, and see how easy it is to work with the City of Maumelle.”

Julie Bull with Dillard’s says the state-of-the-art center shows Arkansas is committed to economic development and Dillard’s is committed to its customers.

“It is a big deal and we were almost somewhat emotional about it, being able to bring [the center] here to the state. We were just very happy to be able to do that,” said Bull. “It’s good for Arkansas, it’s good for central Arkansas, but it is good for Dillard’s as well.”

Bull says now anything ordered on www.dillards.com , from across the nation, is shipped from right in Maumelle with the help of Arkansas workers.