Sam’s Club adds inventory scanning capabilities to its robotic scrubbing fleet

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
sams inventory
Sam’s Club is automating in-store inventory scanning.

The warehouse club division of Walmart is giving its in-store robotic fleet more work.

Inventory scan functionality is being added the fleet of autonomous floor scrubbers that Sam’s Club operates in its stores nationwide in partnership with Brain Corp. and Tennant Company. The Tennant robots (T7AMR) are automated by Brain Corp.’s BrainOS artificial intelligence platform. The deployment marks the first commercial application of Brain Corp.’s inventory scanning technology anywhere in the world.

[Read more: Sam’s Club keeps the floors clean – with help from robots]

The new scanning accessory, which features a dual-function design, will be fitted to the roughly 600 autonomous floor scrubbers already deployed within Sam’s Club stores. Once installed on the scrubber, the new, cloud-connected inventory scan tower is able to capture data as it moves autonomously around the store.

Reports will then be delivered to store managers that provide numerous insights including verification of pricing accuracy, planogram compliance, product stock levels and product localization. Each function automates a formerly manual process, helping to reduce waste and inventory loss.

Sam’s Club initially began expanding its retail shelf analytics pilot using Brain Corp.’s floor scrubber accessory for localizing and analyzing shelf inventory, with the goal of improving in-store shopping experiences, in October 2020. Following a successful six-month proof of concept, Sam’s Club made the decision to expand this pilot.

The retailer has been able to deploy the BrainOS-powered machines quickly, without requiring any expensive custom engineering. They are also designed to be adjusted to meet changing operational requirements, such as different store layouts, without additional technical support.

“By adding inventory scan to our current fleet of robotic scrubbers, we obtain critical inventory data that previously was time-consuming to obtain,” said Todd Garner, VP of in club product management at Sam’s Club. “This intelligence allows us to proactively manage our clubs in an efficient manner. Inventory scan assures items are available and easy to locate in the club, freeing up time for our associates to focus on members and the shopping experience they deserve.”

Sam’s Club parent Walmart has been using BrainOS-powered Tennant automated scrubbers in at least 1,800 stores across the U.S. since 2019. And Midwestern grocer Schnuck Markets Inc. recently began deploying new Tennant T380AMR robotic scrubbers, powered by the BrainOS platform.

“This latest iteration of our valued and longstanding partnership with Sam’s Club marks the beginning of realizing the next phase in our company's vision,” said Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, CEO of Brain Corp. “We are actively taking BrainOS-powered robots from primarily task-oriented machines to in-store data acquisition platforms, able to deliver actionable insights on inventory availability, planogram compliance and more. This adds significant ROI for retailers.”

A division of Walmart, Sam’s Club operates nearly 600 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

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