ZEELAND, Mich.—Kum & Go is deploying a floor-cleaning robot at each of its more than 400 locations. The retailer is working with ICE Cobotics on integrating Cobi 18, a “cobot.” The addition will allow employees more time for other tasks, according to Kum & Go.
“Leveraging autonomous technology like Cobi 18 helps free up associates from repetitive work and allows them to focus on keeping shelves and coolers fully stocked, focus on delivering fresh food offerings and increasing engagement with in-store customers,” wrote Kum & Go in a statement.
Cobi 18 is designed for small spaces and easily navigates tight aisles and around moving and stationary objects. According to the statement, it can easily be deployed multiple times per day to clean floors, ensuring customers experience a clean environment every time they walk through the door.
“Kum & Go’s continuous-improvement culture drives us to find equipment and process improvements that make it easier for our store associates to execute,” said Marty Roush, vice president of operations at Kum & Go. “The choice was easy given the full support model ICE Cobotics provides. We are excited to participate in the development of the Cobi 18 to support stores during times of staffing challenges. Our associates and customers think Cobi is fun, which means it gets used more than any scrubber we have utilized in our stores to date. We’re glad to have Cobi helping us elevate our associate and customer experience.”
“ICE Cobotics is proud to work with partners like Kum & Go that exhibit a commitment to innovation and enhancing the guest experience in their impeccably clean stores,” said Chris Wetmore, vice president, sales, ICE Cobotics. “The partnership and adoption of Cobi is a natural fit due to Cobi’s ability to help increase efficiencies and productivity by freeing up staff in busy convenience stores. We are excited to continue to work with Kum & Go and their amazing people as they implement cleaning automation across their footprint nationally.”
Robot labor is growing as the U.S. grapples with a tight labor market. The number of jobs outnumbers those looking for employment by nearly two to one. Last fall, Sam’s Club completed a roll out of inventory-scanning towers that work hand in hand with its fleet of floor-scrubbing robots. Once installed on the scrubber, a cloud-connected inventory scanner captures data as the scrubber moves autonomously around the store. The scrubbers capture insights such as product localization, planogram compliance, product stock levels and verification of pricing accuracy for items that will be delivered to the store.
In September, Love’s Travel Stops opened its first Jamba by Blendid autonomous robotic kiosk at its Williams, California, store. The self-operating kiosk allows customers to customize their smoothie orders by adjusting ingredient quantities or adding boosts directly through the Blendid app. They can order on-site or schedule a preferred pickup time in advance via the mobile app.
NACS explored AI and machine learning applications for the c-store industry, especially in foodservice, in “Welcome to an Intelligent 2022” in the January 2022 issue.