Grocery deploys inventory control robots

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
Woodman is deploying these robots to track inventory in its stores.

NICHOLASVILLE, Kentucky – Woodman’s Markets is deploying multipurpose robots at its locations throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. The company plans to expand their use to all 18 Woodman’s locations by the end of 2020.

They will monitor product availability, verify prices and deliver precise location data for more than 100,000 items at each location.

“Most Woodman’s stores are over 240,000 square feet, nearly six times larger than the grocery industry average,” said Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies, which supplies the robots.

“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.”

The robots, equipped with Badger Retail InSight, are part of a retail automation rollout that is helping Woodman’s to reduce operational costs and increase store profits.

Imaging tools and neural networks enable the robots to detect out-of-stock items with more than 95 percent accuracy. Incorrect and mispriced products are identified with over 90 percent accuracy.

The robots also discern current product locations within a four-foot section of aisles that typically extend more than 100 feet.

While employee-owned Woodman’s celebrated its centennial in 2019, the grocer is an early adopter of digital technology to improve operations and shopping experiences. “Woodman’s is committed to having the widest variety of groceries at the best prices, unlike other superstores that sell everything from bikes to bananas,” said Clint Woodman, president of Woodman’s Markets.

“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.”

The ability to automate storewide shelf scans for out-of-stocks and price compliance will eliminate arduous manual tasks, especially given each store’s large floor space. The robots will also provide trending data to help forecast and manage commodities and vendors with frequent stock issues.

Badger’s Retail InSight software also keeps track of item locations, allowing the grocer to integrate daily updates into its mobile shopping app to help customers, online order pickers and store associates quickly find all products. This automated process also is proving essential to collaborations with pricing departments, improving the prioritization of replenishment lists and assessing planogram compliance.

To date, more than 500 Badger Technologies shelf scanning, hazard detecting and security monitoring robots have traveled approximately 500,000 miles on behalf of grocers worldwide. I

Badger Technologies is a product division of Jabil, which provides design, manufacturing, supply chain and product management services.