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Walmart To Employ Army of Robot Janitors


By Greg Zimmerman Facilities Management
Robot janitor

Robots are increasingly part of the fabric of facility management, from physical security to helping deliver medicine in hospitals to helping to make guests more comfortable in hotels and other hospitality facilities.

But FMs need not worry that robots are replacing their jobs. Instead, robots are freeing them up to work more strategically and add value to the organization in other areas.

Walmart, for instance, is employing an army of robot janitors, because they’d prefer store workers to be helping customers rather than cleaning, according to CNN. The “Auto-C” robots are self-driving floor-scrubbers. Slightly more high-tech than a Roomba, the 920-pound devices rely on sensors and automated technology to scan for people and aisles. They janitor robots are being tested in 360 Walmart stores before the retailer decides whether to employ them in an additional 1,500 locations.

Addressing the notion that these robots will cause layoffs, Walmart said it just means assigning workers fewer hours to mopping floors, and therefore more hours completing other tasks. Workers will have more flexibility and variety in their job duties, presumably making their jobs more interesting and attractive. "We may need them to do them one activity in the morning and a different activity in the afternoon," said Michael Dastugue, Walmart’s US CFO.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.

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