Robots that scan grocery store shelves to keep those shelves stocked with products are being rolled out at Woodman’s Markets, a regional supermarket chain based in Wisconsin.
The robots, made by a product division of Jabil Inc. (NYSE: JBL), monitor product availability, verify prices and share precise location data for more than 100,000 items at each Woodman’s store.
Daily updates will be incorporated in Woodman’s mobile shopping app to help customers, online order pickers and stores employees quickly find products. The grocery chain expects that retail automation will lower operational costs and increase store performance and profits.
The robots are made by Badger Technologies, a Kentucky-based product division of Jabil (NYSE: JBL), a manufacturing services company and the largest company headquartered in St. Petersburg.
The ability to automate storewide shelf scans for out-of-stock items and price compliance will eliminate the need for workers to do that manually. That’s key because Woodman’s stores are much larger than the typical grocery store.
“Most Woodman’s stores are over 240,000 square feet, nearly six times larger than the grocery industry average,” Tim Rowland, Badger Technologies CEO, said in a news release. “Not only can our robots perform shelf scans in hours instead of days, but they collect and connect critical data with the Woodman’s mobile shopping app to take customer experiences to the next level.”
Woodman’s is committed to having the widest variety of groceries at the best prices, Clint Woodman, president, said in the news release.
“Badger’s robots are helping us fulfill this mission with real-time inventory visibility that yields analytics and actionable data insights to inform our business decisions,” Woodman said.
The robots have imaging tools and neural networks that allow them to detect out-of-stock items with more than 95 percent accuracy, and identify incorrect and mis-priced products with more than 90 percent accuracy. They can discern current product locations within a four-foot section of aisles that typically extend more than 100 feet.
Woodman’s can use the data to forecast and manage commodities and vendors with frequent stock issues.
The grocery chain expects the robots to expand to all 18 Woodman’s locations by the end of the year.
Badger Technologies also has deployed robots that detect hazards and monitor security at other grocery chains.