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Supply Chain News: Investors Keep Pouring Money in to Distribution Technology Vendors


Fetch Robotics, Attabotics both Raise Big Money

July 30, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Major Investment in technology firms hoping to automate distribution processes, driven by the needs of ecommerce fulfillment, continues on.

Last week, for example, mobile robot maker Fetch Robotics (San Jose, CA) announced it had received $46 million in additional funding to fuel its growth plans.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

The Attabotics system is really a form of mini-load AS/RS, which the company says provides 3D robotic goods-to-person storage, retrieval and real-time order fulfillment.

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Fetch at a high level offers mobile robots similar to firms such as Locus Robotice and GrayOrange, all of which provide technology that enables human workers and mobile robots to work together.

That can be for simple tasks like moving a picked pallet or cart to a packing area after a worker completes his or her picks, to more complex processes where robots carrying carts meet pickers at storage locations, then move on to meet another worker at a new location, where another item needed for the active order is stored.

In April, Amazon announced it was acquiring another mobile robot maker, Canvas Technology, for an undisclosed price. That certainly help fuel investor interest in similar firms.

In total, Fetch has raised $94 million to date, from a wide number of venture capital and private equity firms. Founded in 2014, Fetch has more than 130 employees, and says its robots are used in some 100 logistics, manufacturing and distribution sites across 11 countries.

Fetch said it plans to use the funding to pursue more international business and to expand capabilities of its Cloud robotics platform, which manages the robot deployment and integration into warehouse operations.

This week Canadian automated storage and picking system provider Attabotics announced it has raised $25 million from hedge-fund firm Coatue Management LLC, Comcast Ventures and the venture capital arm of Honeywell (which a few years ago acquired materials handline automation provider Intelligrated).

The Attabotics system is really a form of mini-load AS/RS, which the company says provides 3D robotic goods-to-person storage, retrieval and real-time order fulfillment.

The company was founded in 2016 and has over 200 employees. It says it was profitable in the third and fourth quarters of 2018, , and generated nearly $30 million in revenue last year.

The Attabotics system uses robotic shuttles to retrieve goods in vertical storage structures, similar to other shuttle systems from companies sucH as Dematic, SSI Schaefer, and others. The shuttles move horizontally across a grid at the top, then navigate vertically down shafts with storage on four sides, pulling product bins that they deliver to workers at stations set around the perimeter of the structure.

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Attabotics CEO Scott Gravelle says the system can pick, pack and ship using "20% of the labor and 15% of the space: of traditional fulfillment operations, as reported by the Wall Street. The company says it has four customers in North America in sector, iincluding luxury retail and wholesale food distribution.

Some believe the Attabotics system, similar to a system from a company called Alert Innovation, could be used not just in distrbution centers but also in the backroom of some big box retail stores to support store fulfillment and buy on-line, pick-up in store processes at lower cost than manual approaches.

Attabotics plans to use the funding to build out service and tech support and hire additional engineers.

Do you think these investments in DC robotics vendors is smart money? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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