Since the dawn of the self-checkout, automation in retail has sparked anxiety and spread fear over an impending robotic takeover and the fate of human workers. Those fears were stoked again this week when retail giant Walmart announced that it was adding thousands of new robots to its stores nationwide. But a closer look at Walmart's announcement suggests that its robotics push is less of a job killer and more so a response to its own digital operations. As for Walmart's exact robotic plans, the retailer says it will add 1,500 new autonomous floor cleaners, 300 more shelf scanners, 1,200 additional FAST Unloaders, and 900 new Pickup Towers to its US stores. Many of these systems have been in testing throughout select Walmart stores since 2017, meaning that this isn't necessarily a new endeavor for Walmart as it is a broader deployment of an existing program.
A new tech trend has emerged at the world's largest retailer, as Walmart brings on board thousands of robots in nearly 5,000 of its 11,348 stores. According to CNN Business, these robots will be scrubbing floors, scanning boxes, unloading trucks and tracking shelf inventory at mostly domestic U.S. locations. Robots will replace lower-level jobs--serving in janitorial functions as well as performing basic inventory work--in order to manage rising costs. A new robot unloader has already been used on the docks in hundreds of stores, pulling boxes from delivery trucks while automatically scanning and sorting merchandise. The unloader will be deployed at over 1,100 retail locations in the near future.
This ebook, based on a special feature from ZDNet and TechRepublic, looks at emerging autonomous transport technologies and how they will affect society and the future of business. Siemens Mobility opened up its first digital rail maintenance center and is using 3D printing to manufacture parts, reduce inventory and get trains running faster. Located in Dortmund-Eving, Germany--is using Stratasys' Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer to make on-demand tooling and replacement parts. According to Siemens Mobility, a unit of Siemens, manufacturing time of parts has been reduced by about 95 percent. Siemens Mobility noted that the rail center will receive about 100 trains at its depot every month.