Walmart using robots to stock shelves

Published: Monday, October 30, 2017 @ 11:56 AM
Updated: Monday, October 30, 2017 @ 12:10 PM


            Ashley VanHorn, a grocery department dry goods manager, stocks shelves at the Walmart in Fulton, N.Y. Walmart is now using robots to help stock shelves at 50 stores across the country. (Roger Kisby/The New York Times)
            ROGER KISBY
Ashley VanHorn, a grocery department dry goods manager, stocks shelves at the Walmart in Fulton, N.Y. Walmart is now using robots to help stock shelves at 50 stores across the country. (Roger Kisby/The New York Times)(ROGER KISBY)

Walmart is now using robots to help stock shelves at 50 stores across the country.

The robots are helping scan and stock items in stores before the busiest shopping season of the year. The robots are about two-feet-tall and are outfitted with cameras that help them scan aisles and identify missing or mislabeled inventory across the stores. The robots also check for mispriced items, and give the information to employees who fix the issues.

The technology will be used in a test cycle at stores in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Walmart officials say the robots can scan and search for items more efficiently than humans can. “If you are running up and down the aisle and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well, and they don’t like it,” chief technology officer for Walmart U.S. and e-commerce, Jeremy King told Reuters.

“From our perspective, when you’re doing things like this you’re trying to improve your service to your customers and trying to make things simpler and easier for your associates at the same time,” John Crecelius, Walmart’s vice president of central operations, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Humans don’t have to be worried about their jobs anytime soon, Walmart officials said. The robots do not have arms, so they can’t pick any products up in the aisles, said Martin Hitch, chief business officer at Bossa Nova Robotics.

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Ohio senator tweets his frustration during tarmac delay

Published: Wednesday, April 04, 2018 @ 11:59 AM

State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, while not stuck on a plane. FILE
State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, while not stuck on a plane. FILE

Ohio Sen. Bill Beagle was stuck aboard a plane on an airport runway Tuesday evening — and he was not happy about the situation at all.

The Tipp City Republican tweeted about his predicament, and his frustration came through loud and clear.

“Been trapped on @AmericanAir 3542 for two hours on the tarmac in Syracuse,” Beagle tweeted about 15 hours ago. “No end in sight. Send help.”

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Then he added the hashtag: “#neverflyAmerican.”

When American Airlines at one point tweeted, “Sorry for the wait tonight. Looks like there’s some air traffic delays in ORD. We’ll have you in the air ASAP,” Beagle responded: “Liars.”

“Just take us back to the gate so we can rebook tomorrow w/ @Delta,” Beagle wrote.

“ORD” is the airport designation for Chicago’s O’Hare International, which once was known as “Orchard Field.”

At another point, the senator tweeted that he was entering his third hour stuck on the tarmac.

“Beginning third hour onboard @AmericanAir 3542 in Syracuse. They won’t let us off or tell us anything. Just waiting for O’Hare to clear. We could apparently wait here for hours w/ no food or anything. #neverflyAmerican.”

Three hours is too long, according to U.S. Department of Transportation standards.

“For flights departing from a U.S. airport, airlines are required to begin to move the airplane to a location where passengers can safely get off before 3 hours for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights,” the federal department says on its web site.

Reached Wednesday, Beagle said he and his fellow passengers were on the plane for more than three hours. He said they finally got to Chicago about 11 p.m. or midnight local time.

“I don’t know when that meter starts running,” the senator said, when asked about DOT tarmac delay standards.

He finally returned to Dayton this morning after managing to get a flight to Columbus from Chicago, for which he thanked American.

“God bless the people at American; they worked with me to get me on to the flight to Columbus,” he said.

There, Beagle said his wife was able to pick him up and he retrieved his car from Dayton International.

He finally pulled into his garage in Tipp City (near Dayton International) after 3 a.m. Wednesday. Some of his events for Wednesday were cancelled, but that was because he thought initially he would be stuck in Chicago overnight.

“We’re trying to pick up the pieces,” he said Wednesday.

The senator said flight attendants allowed passengers to use cell phones and left the plane door unsealed during the layover. At one point, cookies were passed out.

Beagle said he had no issues with any of the people on board, including the flight attendants. “I tried to give compliments to American,” in a private message on Twitter, he said.

He has left his tweets up on his Twitter page.

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5 tips on breaking into animated film from an award-winning animator

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

The following strategies can help fast track a creative career with top animation studios and teams across the nation Networking with successful alumni Putting yourself out there Showing brands you're a problem solver Sticking to your design guns Making them love you and your artistic abilities

If you've seen a lot of animated films and commercials, you might have come across the work of award-winning animator and illustrator Kurt Guard. His knack for creating cutting-edge visual effects for short- and feature-length films, TV campaigns and personal projects is what lands him animation gigs with top-tier brands like BET Networks, based in New York, and Caribbean Broadcasting Network in Hollywood.

»RELATED: Animated shows with Atlanta roots

"I grew up with a drawing pencil and sketchbook in my hand," said the seasoned multimedia animator based in Atlanta. "My gift for seeing something interesting, drawing it with the right amount of detail then bringing it to digital life is what got me into creative media. My precision and consistency is what led to collaborations with big brands and industry names I would have never imagined - and I have a huge imagination."

Kurt Guard is an award-winning, Atlanta-based animator who has collaborated with national networks like BET and with creative genius and director Jai Anthony Lewis Husband of Disney's 'The Lion King.'(Photo by Suhyoon Cho/For the AJC)


At the tail end of earning a fine arts degree at Georgia State University, he came upon an opportunity any art student would dream of: The chance to work with award-winning director Jai Anthony Lewis Husband, who is known for his work on Disney's "The Lion King."

The opportunity jump started Guard's animation career and led to his receiving NAACP Image Awards for best children's program for 2012’s “Kasha and the Zulu King”.

"I couldn't say 'no' to an opportunity to create with Jai," said Guard. "I just couldn't."

Until that big break comes for up-and-coming film artists, Guard recommends the following strategies to help fast track a creative career with top animation studios and teams across the nation:

Networking with successful alumni

"There's something to attending the same university as famous or influential alumni that instantly creates a special bond with them," said Guard. "Sometimes it's as simple as going to class reunions and alumni galas or becoming friends on social media with classmates that will help connect the professional dots of breaking into the industry." Guard knows colleagues who now work on Marvel, Nickelodeon, FX and Tyler Perry Studios productions, but notes, "It's one thing to know these industry professionals, but you also need to know how to gain sincere access to them." 

»RELATED: How to get a job at the Tyler Perry Studios

Putting yourself out there

Right after the artist Prince passed away in 2016, Guard developed a personal piece as a tribute to the musical mastermind. That illustration caught a colleague's attention, who reached out to Guard and got him in touch with award-winning TV producer Marsha Parker of BET's spin-off network Centric (now called BET Her). 

"It happened that fast," said Guard. "She taught me about the importance of staying on top of tight deadlines and ready for roadblocks." 

Guard highly recommends students commit to "passion projects" in order to generate a buzz with colleagues and creative producers.

"Passion projects are your best artwork - that are right up your talent-level alley and showcases your artistic range," he said. "For instance, if you're passionate about pop culture, political cartoons or celebrity pencil portraits, do that often and use social media to push your artwork to colleagues and industry gatekeepers."

Showing brands you're a problem solver

"If you want to work for Pixar, DreamWorks or Warner Bros., you have to do your research," Guard said. "Your work needs to reflect what that brand is producing. Then, you have to figure out what's missing. What's your 'wow-factor' that can amplify their mission and the direction they're heading into." When pitching projects to potential clients, Guard develops original, animated demos that will pique interest but also identify with the brands he wants to collaborate with. "After studying my favorite creative studios, I propose how I can help improve what they're currently producing as if I'm already a member of the team," he said. "That shows hiring executives and producers I'm serious about contributing to something great."

(Courtesy of BET Networks)

Sticking to your design guns

"Once you get that callback from high-profile production companies, you may start to think you have to go way beyond your design capabilities to continue to impress creative employers," said Guard. "You don't.”

Guard advises the talent that got you to the door is exactly what you need at the design table. Even on high-budget, stressful assignments, Guard suggests remaining composed and innovative with ideas to keep the design process flowing. 

Making them love you and your artistic abilities

"Research is so important, which is something students should never take for granted," said Guard. "Before stepping foot onto any production team, understand the organizational structure, office politics and the ones who are the true movers and shakers to get creative projects off the ground." Once that's established, Guard says your design work can shine through much easier. "When you know who and what you're dealing with for projects, it's a breeze to get your part approved and done before deadline," he said. "You have time to factor in design barriers and still turn out your best work. I'm telling you: When you're producing tight work that inspires and makes your team members' job as trouble-free as possible, the high-profile projects will keep heading your way."

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Mikesell’s must pay nearly $240,000 in backpay, NLRB says

Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 9:58 AM

An ever popular regional brand, Mikesell’s potato chips can be found at most local groceries. LISA POWELL / STAFF
An ever popular regional brand, Mikesell’s potato chips can be found at most local groceries. LISA POWELL / STAFF

The National Labor Relations Board is backing a federal judge’s order that Dayton potato chip producer Mikesell’s Potato Chip Co. pay nearly $240,000 in backpay to union drivers and warehouse workers.

The March 7 ruling adopts an earlier recommended order of an administrative law judge.

The order totals $239,888.61, plus interest and backpay, to route sales drivers, over-the-road drivers and warehouse employees, named in a two-and-one-half page list — a list that identifies each worker and the amount each worker is owed.

RELATEDMikesell’s ordered to pay $239K in back-pay to workers

The case  goes back to 2012.

In October 2017, U.S. Administrative Law Judge David Goldman wrote that a contract with Mikesell’s warehouse employees expired Oct. 26, 2012, while another contract covering the drivers expired Nov. 17 that same year.

Just one day after the drivers’ contract expired, “Mikesell’s announced that the parties were at a bargaining impasse over both units and that effective Nov. 19, 2012, it would unilaterally implement its bargaining proposals,” Goldman noted in his ruling.

RELATEDTeamsters, NLRB sue Mikesell’s

The unions took issue with Mikesell’s declaration of an impasse. They filed an unfair labor practice charge, and in January 2014, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that “Mikesell’s unilateral implementation of its bargaining offers in the absence of impasse violated” the National Labor Relations Act.

Union lawyers asked that the company “restore, honor and continue the terms of the expired collective-bargaining agreements,” the judge wrote, adding: “Mikesell’s declined to do so.”

That led to the company’s petition to a federal Court of Appeals, which denied the company’s request in December 2015.

It appears a battle over back-pay then began, involving the company, the unions and an NLRB regional office. More than three years after the contracts expired, Goldman wrote, “the respondent (Mikesell’s) contends that it had reached a third bargaining impasse with the union in negotiations, one not previously mentioned to the board or to the Court of Appeals, although it allegedly occurred June 13, 2013.”

A message seeking comment was sent to Jennifer Asbrock, the Louisville, Ky. attorney who has represented the Dayton company before the NLRB.

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Former blighted Englewood hotel property sells for  $1.2 million

Published: Sunday, March 04, 2018 @ 10:29 AM

This land at 1212 S. Main St. in Englewood recently sold for nearly $1.2 million. It had been the site of Englewood Inn, until last year. 
This land at 1212 S. Main St. in Englewood recently sold for nearly $1.2 million. It had been the site of Englewood Inn, until last year. 

The disputed property of a former blighted hotel off Interstate 70 just sold for nearly $1.2 million, Montgomery County property records show.

Springtime Investments LLC bought about two parcels consisting of nearly four acres total — .35 of an acre of land and an additional 3.2 acres — at 1212 S. Main St. in Englewood for $1.175 million from Nuwin Realty LLC.

The site once was home to Englewood Inn, a hotel that was demolished a year ago after years of fighting over the site between Nuwin Realty and the city of Englewood. 

RELATED: Kettering manufacturing property sells for $2.15 million.

Bill Singer, Englewood development director, did not know Friday who the end user might be for the land. But he said city leaders have high hopes for the area.

The land is zoned “C-4” for commercial, administrative offices, sales, service and industrial uses. It’s highly visible for motorists coming off the interstate, Singer noted.

He said no one has approached the city yet with a development plan for the site.

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“This is one of the most bizarre things. … I’m glad it actually sold. I’m surprised it went that high,” Singer said.

That property has been under contract for a while, but he didn’t know with whom.

Tearing down the inn at that site “was a great win for the city,” Singer said.

Springtime Investments LLC was incorporated in Dayton two years ago to acquire commercial real estate, according to an Ohio Secretary of State filing.

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