International Data Corporation (IDC) has awarded five pioneering players in the warehouse robotics market with the 2016 IDC Innovators Award. Companies selected met the following criteria: revenue of less than $50 million with an innovative technology, or a groundbreaking new business model, or both.
IDC is a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. Each year they award hundreds of innovator companies in trending industry segments. 2016’s broad trending segments included:
- Internet of things platforms
- Cloud services enablement
- Platform as a service
- Machine learning and analytics
- Image analytics
- Supply chain execution (under which the sub-group Warehouse Robotics was included)
“Robotics are increasingly being leveraged within warehouses to increase productivity and deliver efficiency improvements. Innovators, such as those that we have identified with these awards, are developing intelligent and collaborative robots to help manage the increased flow of goods through modern warehouses and support picking and packing strategies more aligned to the needs of today's omni-channel commerce,” said John Santagate, research manager, Supply Chain Execution at IDC Manufacturing Insights.
The five selected IDC award winners
- Locus Robotics, the Andover, MA startup headed by distribution center owner Bruce Welty. Locus uses sophisticated mapping software for quick set-up and deployment of mobile robots within a warehouse setting.
- Fetch Robotics, the San Jose, CA startup headed by mobile robot expert Melonee Wise, provides a “robot as a service” business model, offering a cost-effective solution for businesses who might otherwise select a non-robotics option due to cost constraints.
- Rethink Robotics' software allows for ease of set-up and operability with embedded safety features that enable robots to work collaboratively with humans. Rethink, founded by ex-MIT professor and iRobot co-founder Rodney Brooks, has helped define the business need and use case for collaborative robotics.
- Clearpath Robotics, a Canadian startup headed by Matt Rendall, makes two self-driving mobile platforms enabling factories and warehouses to deploy a fleet of vehicles that can move a wide range of materials. Clearpath also makes the popular all terrain Grizzly and Husky mobile robots.
- GreyOrange Robotics, an Indian startup founded by Samay Kohil, is producing and selling a Kiva look-alike product line with a goods-to-man robotic system that helps automate inventory management.
Warehouse robotics is definitely an emerging robotics industry segment as old-style AGVs are getting eyes and providing point-to-point movement. Combined with clever picking, storing and stocking methods and devices involving both humans and robots, this industry segment is able to handle more picks at a faster rate more reliably than before, hopefully keeping up with consumer demand. Many startups are focused on this area of warehouse robotic innovation complicated when Amazon decided to take Kiva Systems inhouse and not resell their systems. This caused a temporary technology void which is beginning to be filled by these new award-winning vendors – and many others.
New vendors are being announced frequently, e.g.: inVia Robotics just today came out of stealth mode to launch their “goods-to-box” combination of a grabit robot for picking and a transit robot to move picked goods from place to place.
Congrats to the winners!