Walmart to install robots in most distribution centers

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Walmart to install robots in most distribution centers

Retail giant Walmart will install an automated material handling system in 25 of its 42 regional distribution centers, saying the technology platform from robot vendor Symbotic will modernize and digitize its existing supply chain facilities to support evolving customer demand.

Wilmington, Massachusetts-based Symbotic first implemented its system in Walmart’s Brooksville, Florida, distribution center in 2017 and the parties have been optimizing the system ever since. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Walmart, Symbotic’s system deploys a fleet of autonomous “Symbot” robots in combination with proprietary software to improve throughput and efficiency and to increase warehouse capacity. When in place, it will help reduce the time it takes to unload, sort, and stock freight in Walmart stores, the company said.

The Symbotic system works to sort, store, retrieve, and pack freight onto pallets, Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations, Walmart U.S., said in a blog post.

It uses an algorithm to store cases with a precision that speeds the intake process and increases the accuracy of freight being stored for future orders. That approach will “fundamentally alter how products get to stores” because it takes the guesswork out of unloading trucks by creating custom store- and aisle-ready pallets, he said.

“The digital transformation happening today, alongside evolving customer habits, is reshaping the retail industry,” Metzger said in a release.

"To serve customers now, and in the future, our business must provide the right tools and training to our associates so they can deliver the items our customers want, when they want them, with unmatched convenience. We're investing in our supply chain at an unprecedented scale in order to optimize that process end-to-end."

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