Walmart Canada plans to bring robots to Mississauga and Cornwall, Ontario distribution centers over the next five years. Matt Kelly, Walmart Canada’s vice-president of supply chain, is excited about the progress made in Calgary and is excited to scale it to other sites.

Robots are not subject to union or government policies restricting working hours or the heft of the loads they can carry. They can have downtime for upgrades, maintenance, and recharging but do not need to be offered overtime, vacation, or benefits. They have sped up our ability to move freight and boosted safety and ergonomics by reducing repetitive strain and injuries.

Liza Amlani, co-founder of the Retail Strategy Group, sees perks for shoppers as well. Implementing the right technology could save the retailer a lot of money, which could be passed down as savings to the customer. However, experts have long prophesied that the rise of robots puts jobs at risk.

Walmart’s robots have not nixed the need for workers. In fact, when it announced plans to build the $118 million Calgary distribution centre in 2022, it said the facility would create 325 new jobs. The company wants its associates to focus on problem-solving and critical thinking elements to run a good, safe supply chain.

Some companies similarly leaning on robots have even increased their ranks. Statistics Canada found firms that invested in robots between 1996 and 2017 employed more, not fewer, workers.

“We are always looking for the technologies in the supply chain that will allow our associates to ensure that product is on the shelf at the right time in the right quantities in the right place,” Kelly said.

Source: The Star