Afternoon Coffee: Walmart Expands In-Store Robotics Use; Caterpillar Inc. Adding Services Offerings

But first, more tariffs?

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the imposition of tariffs on $11 billion in imports from the EU. The new tax would be on European goods from aircraft to cheese. The tit-for-tat measure by the US comes in the wake of EU's support to Airbus SE.

Today, it was the EU's turn to strike back. According to a report by Bloomberg, Europe is now preparing retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. over subsidies to Boeing Co.

Walmart ups its robotics game in stores

The retail giant Walmart is expanding its use of robotics in stores as it looks to reset workforce and operations in order to serve businesses online. The robots are being used to monitor inventory, clean floors, unload trucks, and much more.

Walmart is America’s largest private employer and is currently raising wages across the country. As a result, it is looking to save money by ramping up the use of automation. For example, 300 stores this year will gain robots to scan shelves for stock purposes, and the company will more than double the number of automatic scan and sort conveyor belts in stores to 1,200.

This will allow targeted hiring for e-commerce purposes.

Caterpillar expands into service and repairs using the cloud

Caterpillar Inc. is planning on expanding from highly volatile equipment sales by offering services such as repairs and other post-sales functions.

By connecting machines to the cloud, the company is hoping that it can boost its role in post-sales business, offering monitoring services and selling new parts and repairs when needed. They believe this will offer a steadier revenue stream, using technology to bind itself to customers for the long-term.

Freight associations send warning to the White House

A letter has been sent to the White House by a coalition of 18 associations from agricultural, manufacturing, and freight backgrounds. The letter was addressed to economic advisor Larry Kudlow and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday.

It warns that restricting the flow of goods at the border with Mexico will harm U.S. trade. This comes after Trump moved 750 border agents from handling the movement of goods to processing migrants.

The letter said that the coalition has "serious concerns with any new burdens that would slow down or delay the movement of commercial goods across the U.S.-Mexico border,” according to Supply Chain Dive.

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