Walmart is kind of the king of inventory management; they’ve got it down to a science. But starting next year, we may have to change that phrase to “they’ve got inventory management up to a science. Why? Because drones, that’s why.
We’ve Buzzed about big questions regarding drone delivery before, but what Walmart is looking to do with their inventory management solution is quite different. While the retail giant is still looking toward consumer delivery via drone, they are taking a much more internal approach to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the coming months.
When you’re the world’s largest retailer, you tend to have a lot of product in storage. Manual inventory checks to find incorrectly stocked or low-on-supply products at each distribution location could take up to a month. According to Reuters, a drone buzzing around the warehouse can be much more efficient. How much?
“The remotely controlled drone captured 30 frames per second of products on aisles … drones can reduce the labor intensive process of checking stocks around the warehouse to one day.”
The drone’s flight path is vertical, mimicking that of a person using a forklift to check inventory status. When something is low on supply or in the wrong area, a software program alerts warehouse managers to the error. The program is already being tested in a Bentonville, Arkansas distribution center (one of the 190 distribution centers they company has in the U.S. alone).
In the battle for low prices, a few cents can add up. A successful drone inventory management solutions could save Walmart millions of dollars—savings which could be passed onto to consumers and ultimately give Walmart an edge over the online competition with Amazon (known for its low prices). Testing is expected to continue for another 5-8 months before being deployed to more locations.
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