Walmart will roll out 3,800 units of several different types of automated, efficiency-boosting technologies over the course of 2019, the US retailer giant announced this week. The new pieces of technology are aimed at reducing the amount of time Walmart employees spend on “epetitive tasks like cleaning floors or checking inventory on a shelf,” giving staff more time to “serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor.”
In a press release, the company detailed that it would roll out 1,500 new autonomous floor cleaners, 300 more shelf scanners, 1,200 more FAST Unloaders and 900 new Pickup Towers this year.
After being prepped by a member of staff, Walmart’s new autonomous floor cleaners can be programmed to travel throughout the open parts of the store, leaving behind a clean, polished floor. The technology was publicly trialed in fall 2018, according to a TechCrunch report, replacing a ride-on floor scrubber with the new systems (called the “Auto-C”) can save two hours of employee time per day.
Walmart’s new shelf scanners scans items on store shelves to help ensure availability, correct shelf location, and price accuracy. Working with the shelf scanner, the FAST Unloader automatically scans and sorts items unloaded from trucks based on priority and department. This allows associates to move inventory from the back room to the sales floor more quickly.
The company is also installing 900 new pickup towers, which will allow for the collection of orders placed online.
These technologies have collectively been undergoing trials since 2018 in select stores. “Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual, “said John Crecelius, senior vice president of Central Operations for Walmart U.S. “It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail.”