BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is implementing new warehouse technology that “will fundamentally alter how products get to stores,” says executive vice president of supply chain operations Joe Metzger.
The discounter is installing Symbotic’s high-tech automation system in 25 regional distribution centers. Walmart and Symbotic have piloted the system in the chain’s Brooksville, Fla., warehouse since 2017. The system works to sort, store, retrieve and pack freight onto pallets, revolutionizing intake and boosting accuracy in the process, Metzger blogged.
“This system uses a complex algorithm to store cases like puzzle pieces using high-speed mobile bots — operating with a precision that speeds the intake process and increases the accuracy of freight being stored for future orders,” he wrote. “By using dense modular storage, it also expands building capacity. And by using high-speed palletizing robotics to organize and optimize freight, it creates custom store- and aisle-ready pallets, which take the guesswork out of unloading trucks. In short, this is a game changer.”
Applied at Walmart’s scale the “first of its kind” technology is revolutionary because it gets products onto shelves faster, while saving time for associates.
“Along with saving time, limiting out-of-stocks and increasing the speed of stocking and unloading, we’ll also have the chance to train associates on how to use the new equipment, creating new skills and preparing them for jobs in the future,” Metzger added. “And because the technology decreases the need for our associates to handle freight, it removes one of the toughest aspects of supply chain work in material handling.”
Few customers will see a warehouse interior, he says, but they will “witness an industry-leading change each time they find a product on shelves.”