Walmart to deploy 19 autonomous forklifts

News Story
- 18 Apr 2024 ( #1175 ) - Brooksville, FL, United States
1 min read
Where Walmart associate Jose Molina used to unload manually, he can now direct a FoxBot to three times the same output
Where Walmart associate Jose Molina used to unload manually, he can now direct a FoxBot to three times the same output

American retail giant Walmart will roll out 19 autonomous forklifts at four of its distribution centres after trialling the Fox Robotics equipment.

Walmart staff at the company’s Distribution Centre 6020 in Brooksville, Florida have been trialling a FoxBot autonomous forklift for 16 months, according to the centre’s general manager Maurice Gray.

Gray says the autonomous forklifts have proved advantageous to staff and the business.

“Sometimes, working smarter can look like working harder,” he says. “That’s certainly how it appears in 6020, where the relationship between our associates and our automated systems is one of constant progress and higher output.”

Gray says the FoxBot, used at the warehouse loading dock, complemented the facility’s automated storage and retrieval system.

Instead of manually unloading pallets from trucks, Walmart staff at Distribution Centre 6020 “become conductors, considering the best, most efficient way to unload trailers based on their own experience”, Gray says.

“Sort of like playing Tetris, our associates’ new role is becoming more like a game owner,” he says.

During the FoxBox trial, one Walmart staff member directing an autonomous forklift could work three times faster than if the staff member performed the task manually.

Gray also notes that Walmart took a minority stake in Fox Robotics, demonstrating the company’s multi-year commitment to the technology.

“Our new autonomous forklift program with Fox Robotics is proof positive that when you empower associates, embrace innovation and welcome new opportunities, you’ll see growth for the business and its people,” Walmart vice president of innovation and automation Shayne Wahlmeier says.

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