After a multi-year pilot, Walmart plans to deploy Symbotic warehouse automation to increase the speed and efficiency of Regional Distribution Centers (CDRs).
Plans call for Walmart to implement Symbotic’s robotic technology in 25 of its 42 DRCs, said Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations at Walmart US on Wednesday. The scalable system includes a fleet of fully autonomous robots and proprietary software to improve throughput while increasing warehouse capacity, according to Wilmington, Mass.-Based Symbiotic, which said its solution would reduce the time it takes to unload. , sort and store freight at Walmart. stores.
Metzger described the Symbiotic system as “a game changer” for Walmart. “This decision will fundamentally change the way products arrive in stores,” he noted.
“Right now, the product arrives at one of our regional distribution centers and is either transhipped or stored until needed. Products are moved or stored manually. When it’s time for the product to go to a store, someone is tasked with packing a 53ft trailer into a human Tetris set for transit. When the truck arrives at a store, our associates unload it manually and pick up the items where they need to be, ”explained Metzger. “Symbotic’s technology does things differently. This system uses a complex algorithm to store cases like puzzle pieces using high-speed mobile robots, operating with precision that speeds up the receiving process and increases the accuracy of stored cargo for future orders. By using dense modular storage, it also increases build capacity. And using high-speed palletizing robotics to organize and optimize freight, it creates custom, storage and aisle-ready pallets that take the guesswork out of unloading trucks.
Symbotic first implemented its system at Walmart’s RDC in Brooksville, Fla., In 2017. Since then, Walmart has worked closely with the robotics and automation specialist to test the technology and optimize its use in the facility and other locations.
Metzger noted that the pilot with Symbotic builds on supply chain advancements made through automation deployments at Walmart’s high-tech consolidation center in Colton, Calif., And its high-tech distribution center. technology for fresh and frozen groceries in Shafter, California.
“This unique technology [from Symbiotic], when applied at our scale, is revolutionary because it gets products to our customers’ shelves even faster, while saving our associates time. The new way of unloading palletized trucks suitable for stores will make the process faster and easier for our associates, allowing them to spend more time with our customers, ”said Metzger. “In addition to saving time, limiting stockouts and increasing the speed of storage and unloading, we will also have the possibility of training employees in the use of new equipment, the creation of new skills and preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow. . And because technology reduces the need for our associates to manage freight, it removes one of the most difficult aspects of supply chain work in material handling.
Symbotic said it will now start outfitting the 25 additional Walmart RDCs with its solution. The tech provider noted that its system will digitize Walmart’s sourcing facilities and help the retailer meet changing customer demand, including creating a frictionless experience that allows people to shop. shopping when, where and how they want.
“There is no greater validation of our efforts to use technology to reinvent the warehouse and supply chain than our work with Walmart,” Symbiotic CEO Rick Cohen said in a statement. “Over 15 years ago, we set out to dramatically improve legacy US warehouses and supply chains to provide better and faster service to US consumers with new career opportunities for workers. Working with customers like Walmart has allowed us to develop this complete solution and with that trust we are now able to develop Symbotic powered warehouses across the country for years to come.