Exotec Warehouse Robotics System Raises $335 Million
french startup Exotec raised a $335 million Series D funding round in a new funding round led by Goldman Sachs’ Growth Equity business. Following today’s investment, the company has reached a valuation of $2 billion.
Exotec sells a complete end-to-end solution to transform an ordinary warehouse into a partially automated logistics platform. It is a hardware and software solution that replaces some human tasks.
83North and Dell Technologies Capital also participated in the funding round. Previous Exotec investors include Bpifrance, Iris Capital, 360 Capital Partners and Breega.
Picture credits: Exotec
The key component of the Exotec system is called the Skypods. These discreet robots roam the ground autonomously. When they are next to the locker on the right, they can go up the locker to pick up a bin and then come back down with the bin on the right. This is particularly useful for increasing the storage density of a warehouse because you can store products a few feet off the ground.
The Skypod then transports the bin to a picking station so that human operators can pick the correct product from the bin. The robot can then go up to the racks and put the bin back on a shelf.
In this scenario, humans no longer have to roam the warehouse. They can focus on picking, packing, and making sure products come in and go out of the warehouse. When it comes to adding new products, new shelves and new Skypods, Exotec tries to be as flexible as possible.
If you want to add new racks, you can expand your infrastructure without starting from scratch. Likewise, Exotec allows you to add more Skypods into the system. And when you receive a product delivery, Exotec again relies on its Skypods to store the products in the distribution center.
From Skypods to Skypickers
With its standardized bin system, Exotec can store multiple products in a single bin. There may be 18 products in this bin, but customers want one, two or three products in this bin – most likely they don’t want the whole bin. This is why Exotec cannot simply empty small bins into a larger bin to prepare an order.
The startup has created new bots to remove humans from an extra step in the ordering process. Exotec customers can now use Skypickers to automatically pick goods from an inventory bin and place them in a bin ready to ship.
Here’s what it looks like:
“In the wake of the most significant supply chain disruptions of the modern era, there is only room left for innovation,” co-founder and CEO Romain Moulin said in a statement. “While the entire logistics industry is fraught with uncertainty, one of the most pervasive challenges is the persistent labor shortage. Exotec is forging a new path: elegant collaboration between human workers and robots that delivers warehouse productivity in a sustainable and much more sustainable way.
Exotec has always positioned its product as a service that cannot completely replace humans. An Exotec warehouse is run by a combination of humans and robots. With the Skypickers, the startup is positioning itself as a logistical advantage in a tight labor market.
Following today’s funding round, the startup plans to hire 500 engineers by 2025 and continue its push in North America. He recently signed eight major clients in the region, such as Gap and Geodis. Decathlon also uses Exotec in its Montreal distribution center.