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Walmart automating packing of pallets

by Serenah McKay | July 15, 2021 at 10:20 a.m.
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, file photo, signage is pictured at a Walmart store in Oklahoma City.

Walmart Inc. is adopting an automated pallet-packing system that it has been testing in 25 of its 42 regional distribution centers.

The Bentonville-based retailer has used the technology since 2017 at a warehouse in Florida. Walmart is now integrating the system into its regional network, the company said Wednesday.

High-speed, mobile bots will sort, store, retrieve and pack freight onto pallets. A complex algorithm enables them to organize and load the freight in a dense, modular fashion that makes full use of storage capacity.

Using robotics to organize and optimize freight "creates custom store- and aisle-ready pallets, which take the guesswork out of unloading trucks," said Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations for Walmart U.S.

"In short, this is a game changer," Metzger said. "This move will fundamentally alter how products get to stores."

Benefits of the new system include saving time, limiting out-of-stocks and increasing the speed of stocking and unloading, he said. It also lets workers learn new skills and decreases the need for them to handle heavy freight.

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