Tech | Visa | Scholarship/School | Info Place

Walmart to deploy robotic forklifts in its distribution centers

The story of warehouse robots is one of trying to keep up with Amazon. It’s been more than a decade since the online giant revolutionized its delivery services with the acquisition of Kiva Systems. To stay competitive, Walmart is taking a more piecemeal approach to automation by partnering with a range of different robotics companies.

On Thursday, the big box retailer announced a partnership with Fox Robotics to bring the Austin-based startup’s 19 robotic forklifts into its distribution centers. Today’s news follows a 16-month pilot in which Walmart is trialling the technology at its 6020 distribution center.

The Florida distribution center is what the company calls its first “high-tech distribution center.” In these warehouses, the company experiments with automation and various other technologies before rolling them out to its broader distribution and fulfillment center channels. DC 6020 is where Walmart begins experimenting with Symbotic package sorting and retrieval technology.

Following that successful trial, Walmart announced plans to roll out the technology to all 42 of its regional distribution centers, nearly double its original target of 25. This week’s news is more modest, targeting four high-tech distribution centers, but if all goes well, retailers will be ordering more.

The robotic forklift is emblematic of the automated brownfield approach, which is that the company is using technology to effectively retrofit existing warehouses rather than building the space from scratch around the technology. This is certainly a faster and cheaper method, although there may ultimately be trade-offs.

So, why automate forklifts? In addition to efficiency, a proper automation system can also bring an extra sense of security. Approximately 95 people are injured every day in the United States due to forklifts. Imagine driving a heavy machine with blind spots and two giant metal prongs on the front, and you’ll begin to understand why they can be potentially dangerous, especially in tight quarters. There are a lot of human workers hanging around in the space.

#Walmart #deploy #robotic #forklifts #distribution #centers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *