Walmart expands fleet of robots to new stores, but promises it won’t cut jobs

Walmart expands fleet of robots to new stores, but promises it won’t cut jobs

Why it matters to you

Automation’s increased role in the service industry raises concerns about the future of human workers.

Decades after they revolutionized the manufacturing industry, robots are now making their way to the service industry. PCMag has reported that Walmart is planning on using robots to automate certain mundane tasks.

The world’s largest retailer said it hopes to use automation to “handle tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual, like scanning shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels.” The robots have already been deployed in multiple stores in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and California. Now, the company is preparing to expand the project to 50 additional stores.

The company says that this technology will free up the retailer’s employees to “focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart — serving customers and selling merchandise.”

Ultimately, Walmart is hopeful that this new technology will make things more convenient for consumers by ensuring that products are always in stock and prices accurate. Overall, the company says that these machines are 50 percent more productive and three times faster at scanning shelves than humans.

“This combination of people and technology is helping make our stores more convenient and easier to shop, ensuring that products are available when our customers want them,” the company wrote.

As convenient as this might be for consumers, there are concerns that these machines might one day replace the company’s living employees. For now, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Jemery King, the company’s CTO, has said that the company is not planning on cutting any jobs due to these machines. King says that the tasks these machines are meant to accomplish are ones that humans find boring.

King’s assurances aside, there are legitimate reasons for people to be concerned about the impact of automation on the job’s market. No one would argue that automation hasn’t reduced the number of people employed in the manufacturing sector.

Walmart isn’t the only service-oriented company experimenting with automation. McDonald’s recently experimented with replacing cashiers with kiosks which can take orders and payments from customers without making them stand in line. As with Walmart, McDonald’s has promised that these machines are not meant to be a replacement for any human workers.

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Published at Sat, 28 Oct 2017 20:57:35 +0000

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