SAN JOSE, Calif. – Fetch Robotics today announced raising $46 million in a Series C funding round to help expand its on-demand automation and cloud robotics system. The company, an RBR50 2019 honoree, said it will use the new funding for international expansion, meet accelerating customer demand, and continue research and development for its robotics system.
The round was led by Fort Ross Ventures, with additional participation from CEAS Investments, Redwood Technologies, TransLink Capital, and Zebra Ventures. The company said all of its existing investors – O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Softbank Capital, and Sway Ventures – also participated in this round. The company said it has raised $94 million to date.
“Customers have responded enthusiastically to our unique Cloud Robotics solution, and we’re responding by securing the funds we need to continue growing and enhancing our offerings,” said Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics. “The competitive pressures for excellence in logistics have never been greater. Our Autonomous Mobile Robots and cloud platform enables our customers to meet their customers’ demands while meeting their own financial objectives.”
Fetch said that companies within the supply chain space need to produce, transport, package, ship, deliver and adapt at a pace never before seen in this space. “At the same time, the labor shortages that plague e-commerce operations are also impacting distribution, fulfillment and manufacturing facilities,” the company said. In a recent survey, the top concern among logistics industry leaders was “hiring qualified workers,” and a separate survey said manufacturing executives are worried that about 60% of current open positions at their businesses are unfilled due to the lack of skilled workers.
Universal Logistics deployment
Fetch also announced that Universal Logistics Holdings, Inc., based in Michigan, recently deployed the Fetch Cloud Robotics Platform in its 1 million-square-foot logistics facility in Smyrna, Tenn., to address a labor shortage. Just outside of Nashville, the greater metropolitan area where Smyrna resides ranks among the lowest overall unemployment rates in the U.S., at 2.4%, which makes it difficult to meet the demand for logistics workers and leads to “chronic under-staffing situations,” Fetch said. As a result, Universal Logistics has a need for “flexible, reliable, and cost-effective automation solutions that can handle low-level tasks – like pushing carts with parts and sub-assemblies over long distances.”
“In Smyrna as in many markets we serve, we face chronic labor shortages, at times in excess of 10% of our required staff, which puts significant pressure on everyone from the workers on the floor to senior management,” according to Universal Logistics CEO Jeff Rogers. “The Fetch Robotics system provides an answer to our problem. Because the system installs so quickly – we had it fully operational in less than a week – we’re able to boost output and manage our costs. And our workers like it because the robots take on the less interesting, more laborious tasks. With Fetch, our employees can focus on the revenue-generating tasks that are more fulfilling and more valuable.”
At the Smyrna facility, Universal is using 10 Fetch CartConnect robots in conjunction with 40 carts to automate several key processes in the warehouse, Fetch said. This enables them to meet their targets while reducing the near continuous need to ask associates to work overtime. By opting for Fetch’s robots-as-a-service monthly fee model, Universal said it can minimize their upfront investment.
“Thanks to the short time from delivery to operation and the pay-as-you go approach, we’ve seen an immediate financial benefit from the Fetch deployment,” said Lee Weisenberger, Managing Director of IT at Universal. “This is a model we can easily roll out to many additional facilities.”
“Flexibility in operations is a top priority for warehouse operators today,” said John Santagate, Research Director at IDC. “Traditional automation technology lacks the ability for rapid deployment, scalability, and flexibility that modern robotics are enabling. On top of the physical element of modern robotics, development of cloud-based applications to enable robotics has greatly enhanced the ability to rapidly and efficiently deploy robotics at scale. The cloud robotics approach at Fetch is something that is enabling warehouses to rapidly realize the benefits of robotics and making it easier for companies to deploy and use robots in their operation.”