Walmart’s robots – from sim to store

Alphabot material handling robot for Walmart's grocery picking warehouse.

Yahoo Finance recently ran an exclusive on Walmart’s robot deployment. Our partners at MOSIMTEC used AnyLogic to develop the simulation model behind the system’s development.

Walmart, the world’s largest seller of groceries, has begun piloting first-of-a-kind automation for its popular online grocery pickup service. The Yahoo Finance scoop details how the retailer has introduced Alert Innovation's Alphabot automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) at its supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, to fill orders faster than ever before.

Alert Innovation have provided a material handling system that includes high-density storage, picking stations, control software, and robots. The robots are described as a step-up from traditional Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) because they do not need to travel on pre-programmed pathways. Alert Innovation’s CEO, John Lert, told Yahoo Finance that it is about the evolution of retail and he believes Alphabot marks the dawn of a new era.

Before commencing the technology pilot, MOSIMTEC assisted Walmart’s evaluation of the Alphabot system by providing a simulation model. The model, built using AnyLogic simulation software, helped inform investment decision making, test service-level capabilities, and identify improvement opportunities. After the initial development phase, the model was transitioned for use in fine-tuning control algorithms — an excellent example of how a simulation model can be used at multiple development stages.

⭐ MOSIMTEC’s insight and further details of the project can be found in their case study.

❔ Robots promise to assist with many tasks. Have you seen any in your supermarket, when do you think you will? What task would you like robots to help with? Let us know in the comments below!