Automation is rapidly spreading in warehouses across the U.S. Today, Symbotic LLC announced that it will deploy its robotics and software in all 42 of Walmart Inc.'s regional distribution centers. This is an expansion of Walmart's prior agreement to deploy Symbotic's supply chain technology in 25 distribution centers.
“The expanded partnership with Walmart substantiates how our technology is truly reinventing the traditional warehouse and distribution of consumer goods across the supply chain,” stated Rick Cohen, chairman, president, and chief product pfficer of Symbotic. “As a technology platform with deep roots in warehousing and distribution, our system addresses some of the biggest challenges of today’s complex supply chain, such as inventory agility, transportation cost, and labor availability.”
“Modernizing the warehouse allows consumers to get what they need faster and creates benefits for everyone, including workers, customers, and their local communities,” he added.
Symbotic System designed for numerous SKUs
Symbotic said it is “reimagining the supply chain with its end-to-end, AI-powered robotic and software platform.” The Wilmington, Mass.-based company has built a fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) powered by machine learning. Combined with a high-density physical structure, the system can improve efficiency, accuracy, and agility while reducing costs, claimed Symbotic.
The company said its software “orchestrates a team of robots to receive, store, and retrieve a virtually limitless number of SKUs.” The Symbotic System uses proprietary end-of-arm tools and vision systems to swiftly output cases, totes, and packages.
Symbotic said its technology makes warehouses strategic assets for the world’s largest retail, wholesale, and food and beverage companies.
The company recently announced a planned merger with special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) SVF Investment Corp. 3, a SoftBank unit, and plans to be publicly listed on Nasdaq. It filed an S-4 registration statement, a final proxy statement, and an SVF prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on May 9.
Walmart to accelerate materials handling with robots
Each week, approximately 220 million customers and members visit approximately 10,500 Walmart stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries and e-commerce websites, said the retailer. With fiscal year 2021 revenue of $559 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide.
Symbotic said its automation plays a strategic role in supporting Walmart's goal of modernizing its vast supply chain network. It allows Walmart to transform its regional distribution centers to provide faster responsiveness to store orders, increased inventory accuracy, and higher capacity for receiving and shipping freight to stores, according to the company.
The technology’s ability to build palletized loads of department-sorted inventory will enables Walmart to get products onto shelves at its more than 4,700 stores more quickly, while also making one of the toughest aspects of supply chain work – material handling – safer and simpler, said Symbotic.
“The need for accuracy and speed in the supply chain has never been more visible, and we’re confident that now is the time to move even faster by scaling Symbotic’s technology to our entire regional distribution center network,” said David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation at Walmart U.S. “Using high-speed robotics and intelligent software to organize and optimize inventory, the Symbotic System helps us get products to our customers quickly and seamlessly by revolutionizing how we receive and distribute products to stores.”
Regional centers to get upgrades over several years
Walmart has already begun embedding Symbotic’s technology in select regional distribution centers throughout its network. The retrofitting process of all 42 regional distribution centers is expected to be completed over the next eight-plus years.
The Symbotic System will also creates new, tech-enabled jobs, such as cell operator and maintenance technician, that offer widely applicable skills in robotics and technology, the companies said.
The companies did not state the value of their expanded partnership. Walmart discussed its supply chain and automation strategy with Symbotic in a blog post.
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