Walmart Inc. and Symbotic LLC today announced that they have partnered to “reimagine” the retailer's regional distribution network. Symbotic first implemented its supply chain automation in Walmart's Brooksville, Fla., distribution center in 2017. Since then, the companies have worked together to optimize the system. Today, Symbotic will begin outfitting 25 additional regional distribution centers with its hardware and software.
“There is no greater validation of our efforts to use technology to reimagine the warehouse and supply chain than our work with Walmart,” stated Rick Cohen, CEO of Symbotic. “We set out more than 15 years ago to dramatically improve America’s legacy warehouses and supply chain to provide better and faster service to American consumers with new career opportunities for workers.”
“Working with customers like Walmart has enabled us to develop this total solution, and with this trust, we are now positioned to develop Symbotic-powered warehouses around the country for years to come,” he said.
Wilmington, Mass.-based Symbotic said its platform, which has more than 250 issued patents, is an end-to-end system that combines software and a fleet of fully autonomous robots. The system can enhance storage density, increase available stock-keeping units (SKUs), reduce product damage, and improve throughput and speed to customers, claimed the company.
Symbotic said it is rapidly growing as it supplies Fortune 100 retailers and wholesalers in new and existing warehouses throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Walmart scales automation to aid associates
Walmart said it supply chain is central to ensuring customers can shop when, where and how they want. Each week, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer serves about 220 million customers and members at about 10,500 stores and clubs in 24 countries and e-commerce websites. With fiscal year 2021 revenue of $559 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide.
By implementing Symbotic’s system, Walmart said it will modernize and digitize its existing supply chain facilities to support evolving customer demand and create a frictionless experience. The company also said it will create training opportunities for associates for jobs of the future, increase productivity, and reduce costs.
Walmart said Symbotic’s robots and proprietary software will help reduce the time it takes to unload, palletize, sort, and stock freight in its stores. Walmart has also invested in drone delivery, autonomous vehicles for middle-mile and last-mile deliveries, and cleaning robots.
“The digital transformation happening today, alongside evolving customer habits, is reshaping the retail industry,” said Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations at Walmart U.S. “To serve customers now, and in the future, our business must provide the right tools and training to our associates so they can deliver the items our customers want, when they want them, with unmatched convenience. We're investing in our supply chain at an unprecedented scale in order to optimize that process end to end.”
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