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Beijing-based ForwardX Robotics formally launched the robotics company within the United States. The company produces autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and has secured its first contract to deploy its warehouse solutions within the US.
FowardX announced its first round of its Series C funding back in December 2021. The round of funding brought the company’s total to over $100 million since it was founded in 2016. In the announcement, ForwardX stated that it would begin to ramp up its deployment capabilities and expand sales into the United States market.
First U.S. customer
The first U.S. project is with Hiocloud in Edison, New Jersey. Hiocloud is a Chinese company that is setting up sales channels and overseas warehouses in the U.S. to sell high-quality home products made in China.
When selecting a solutions provider, Hiocloud was focused on reducing its errors and increasing productivity in U.S. warehouses. ForwardX and Hiocloud built a solution that currently consists of seven ForwardX Max 600 AMRs to aid in the picking process and pallet movement across Hiocloud’s roughly 50,000-square-foot warehouse.
“It’s been a pleasure getting our solution up and running at Hiocloud’s warehouse. The first stage of the project was deployed in under a month,” stated ForwardX’s on-site robotics engineer, Zhiyi Ye. “Currently we’re working on improving their productivity via our picking system consisting of the AMRs and our fleet management system. Delivering customers with an efficient robotics solution that increases their UPH (units picked per hour) is key.”
First U.S. tradeshow
ForwardX Robotics also attended its first in-person event, exhibiting at Package Fulfillment, Logistics & Delivery Expo in Cincinnati last month. The event catered to businesses looking for e-commerce fulfillment and shipping solutions, parcel handling and sorting technology, and last mile delivery innovations.
“The event in Cincinnati went really well. It was a focused event, so everyone in attendance was seriously considering adding automation,” said ForwardX’s North American VP, Jett Chitanand. “It’s important for people to be able to see and interact with the robots in person. Videos can only help so much; people like to see the robots in action. Events like this will go a long way for our brand awareness and it provides us with an opportunity to showcase our uniqueness. I believe moving forward that ForwardX is going to continue innovating and solving problems for customers using newer products and technology, tackling new use cases.”
ForwardX presented its Flex 300 and Max 600L AMRs at the show. While a lot of attention has been given to how material handling can be automated for piece-load goods, solutions at the case and pallet level have largely been neglected. The company showcased its ability to bring the well-established swarming method of piece-picking to the larger and heavier items, cases, or pallets for e-commerce and distribution workflows.
ForwardX Robotics already plans to present and exhibit at WTWH’s Mobile Robotics Week in August, CSCMP Edge in Nashville this September, Promat in Chicago next March, and more.
Yaxin Guan, ForwardX’s COO, stated, “Our results in China, where labor costs are comparatively low, have given us great confidence in what we are able to offer to the rest of the world. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry and solve problems that many companies are facing in the wake of the pandemic and rapid growth of e-commerce. We still have a lot of work to do in getting our name out there but having launched our first project in the US is a great step for us. That and finally having feet on the ground in the US where we can exhibit at tradeshows, giving people the chance to actually see and touch the AMRs, makes me very excited for our future.”
With AMRs already overtaking AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) in units shipped and worldwide revenue in 2021, the gap is expected to widen in the coming years. ForwardX looks to position itself as a global leader in the field, bringing its unique solutions for both piecepicking and casepicking to customers in need.