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Replace Walmart with The Warehouse and you can see the future here.

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Walmart is adding hundreds of robots to its stores to help wash floors and perform low-level jobs that will free up workers to do other important work.

Walmart will add robots to at least 300 of its stores this year, the Wall Street Journal reported. In another 900 of its stores, Walmart will put 16-foot-high towers permitting shoppers to pick up orders they’ve placed online

“With automation, we are able to take away some of the tasks that associates don’t enjoy doing,” Walmart’s senior director of central operations in the U.S., Mark Propes, said, according to the WSJ. “At the same time we continue to open up new jobs in other things in the store,” he added.The robots’ duties are to clean floors, monitor inventory and unload trucks, among others, the WSJ reported. Walmart’s robot launch comes after the company has increasingly spent more money to give workers higher salaries and offer online grocery shopping and delivery services. The robots are meant to help offset those costs, according to the WSJ.

The robots are intended to be “operational partner[s]” to workers, according to Brain Corp. innovation vice president Phil Duffy, the WSJ reported. Brain Corp. developed the software that allows the robots to function. Walmart will also double the number of automated conveyer belts that scan products leaving delivery trucks to 1,200, the WSJ reported. The move is meant to offset costs and free workers to do higher-value tasks, according to Walmart officials.

“It’s very hard for employers to get the workforce they need,” Mr. Duffy said. “None of the customers we’re working with are using our machines to reduce their labor costs; they’re using them to allow their teams, their janitorial teams, to perform higher-value tasks.”

Walmart raised the base salary for its workers to $11 in 2018. Its competitors have also raised wages. Costco increased worker wages to $15 and Amazon did the same.

Other retail corporations have also added automated devices to its stores. Target added money counting machines to its stores over the summer to free up workers to perform other more meaningful duties.

Walmart’s robot launch comes as it continues to fight Amazon in an online shopping battle. Walmart recently hired 40,000 workers to help stock groceries for online orders, the WSJ reported.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Warehouse not so long ago was trumpeting they are paying the Living Wage to their employees. Next visit from me to find the checkout staff have been replaced with self-service machines. So not so much about service for customers but more about raking back the profits the Warehouse virtue signalling has cost them.

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    • Oh dear, I thought you had a better grasp of things. Competition forces business to be better. at least business has the choice to get better or die as many do. When you look at the govt. and local govt.and anywhere the unions have power e.g. teaching then that innovation towards customer centered activity just doesn’t rise to the fore. Banks are a good example. I still get paid for a few jobs with cheques. what a pain to have to go to a shopping centre (as it is these days), find a car park, waste my time walking to deposit an envelope in a drawer.

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  2. These corporate leeches are the same in all countries. Once one does something, they all follow like lemmings. It’s good to see the Warehouse is paying the living wage. More companies should do so. They all can afford to do so, but corporate greed always comes first.

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    • Lemmings going over the cliff is a fallacy, no doubt you will not believe me, go google it. I can only assume that you do not shop at any of those stores that you consider to be such bastards?

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    • It called competitive pressure. Get better or die but then I don’t expect a fairy with a magic wand to understand customer service and competition for customers. If the customers don’t like it they will move. Best example around is Milo. Canged their recipe gone from No.1 brand in the market to be forgotten forever. Trying to salvage wht they had by rearranging the recipe again. Stuffed they are. Cadbury’s similar experience. Fuck up you die in the market. As it should be.

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  3. Self-service machines are everywhere now. You have one staff member where there used to be a half dozen. Businesses are of course going to use the technology! The machines can’t strike. They don’t call in sick. They can’t sue you in court. Not so long ago robots replaced countless thousands of auto worker jobs.

    If i were working for the Warehouse or Wal-Mart I’d be getting ready to up-skill VERY quickly.

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    • It is much more extensive that a few robots being used for mundane jobs it is more like a modern industrial revolution but this time miniaturized. The advances in 3D printing are dictated only by the medium or material used in the process now extending to body parts. Domestic versions can be used to produce replacement parts for appliances. Combining commercial versions with the CNC process plus a variable print head to use a variety of feeds.Or even other processes such as wood carving with using a cutter head.
      Meanwhile here in the land where a clever Kiwi discovered how to split an atom too many are upset about bigger issues. Bearing in mind a petition of 40 add thousand was enough to close down the oil and gas exploration industry not all petitions are equal. A similar sized petition to limit gender fluidity being pushed to children through the education system has some jumping up and down. Posing the question. “Are the good times really over for good?”

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