And four! In the space of a few days at the beginning of 2022, France saw the birth of its fourth unicorn and its first in the industrial sector. Exotec announced on January 17 that it had raised $335 million. The warehouse automation specialist completed this Series D with Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Large Venture (Bpifrance) and 83North. On the occasion of this round, the nugget is valued at 2,000 million dollars.
Warehouse optimization and automation
The nugget from Lille has developed robots called Skypod that can move in three dimensions at a speed of 4 m/s. In addition, shelving and storage containers are installed in the warehouse to optimize space and store as many things as possible. Exotec’s “double depth” technology allows for increased racking density compared to a conventional system, as the robots are equipped with a double fork that allows them to access a container stored behind another container.
“Exotec promotes a collaborative human-robot approach that increases warehouse productivity and improves working conditions,” says Romain Moulin, CEO and co-founder of Exotec. The nugget recently introduced an articulated arm called the Skypicker designed to grab products from storage bins and then place them into order picking bins.
A device that completes its existing offer that has already conquered Decathlon, Carrefour, Uniqlo, Geodis, Cdiscount and Gap. Exotec has also equipped Monoprix’s state-of-the-art warehouse in the Paris region. Thanks to this fundraising, the expansion wants to hire an additional 500 R&D engineers by 2025.
Exotec designs and manufactures its robots in Croix
The Lille resident also intends to continue his international expansion. But Exotec is far from the only company that wants to automate logistics warehouses. Britain’s Ocado, historically positioned in the online grocery store, has become widely known for its robotic and automated warehouse and is now commercializing its technology. A legal battle is also underway between Ocado and its Norwegian competitor AutoStore, which helped it create its original store. The two companies accuse each other of patent infringement.
AutoStore has also developed a modular and automated e-commerce order processing system. It is based on a principle of robotic cubes, whose arrangement increases the storage capacity of a warehouse whatever the configuration of the space. For its part, Exotec puts its strengths to seduce customers. In just five years, from start-up to industrial SME, the Lille resident designs and manufactures his robots in his 6,000 m² factory located in Croix, in the Hauts-de-France.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of e-commerce have highlighted the need to optimize the supply chain at all stages. Warehouse automation should boost productivity and reduce workplace accidents and stress factors. “Building adequate, efficient and agile supply chains is a priority for our customers, who must now rethink their logistics plans”, agrees Romain Moulin. The demand for warehouse optimization and automation solutions shows no signs of slowing down.
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