Walmart to Acquire Robotics Automation Firm Alert Innovation

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Further refining its omnichannel fulfillment capabilities, Walmart has agreed to acquire robotics automation company Alert Innovation.

Walmart has been working with Alert over the past five years to customize Alert’s material-handling technology for use in Walmart’s market fulfillment centers (MFCs), which are compact warehouses built within, or added to, retail stores to help fulfill pickup or delivery orders.

Now, with the acquisition, Walmart is bringing Alert’s capabilities in-house to scale its proficiencies and deploy MFCs more quickly, Walmart said in a blog post on its website.

“Further investing in this technology will enable us to leverage our store footprint — 4,700 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population — for storage and fulfillment,” David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation at Walmart U.S., said in the post. “For customers, this means orders can be fulfilled quickly and conveniently through pickup and delivery, giving them the items they want, when and where they want them.”

Walmart’s MFCs use autonomous bots specifically built for the company by Alert to store, retrieve and dispense orders. The bots move up, down and sideways without lifts and conveyors, so they require less space in which to operate, the post stated.

Warehouse space has become increasingly rare and expensive as many of America’s big retailers have been coping with excess inventories.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to modernize our supply chain operations through investments in robotics and automation in our stores and distribution and fulfillment centers, creating exciting new experiences for customers that are unique to Walmart,” Guggina said in the post.

Alert Innovation said in a press release that it will continue to operate in the Boston area under the Alert Innovation brand.

“Our mission to improve people’s lives through innovation will now be dedicated to Walmart customers and associates which is an inspiring undertaking,” Alert Innovation Founder and Executive Chairman John Lert said in the release.