As the holiday shopping season begins, consumer expectations are higher than ever for rapid, accurate order fulfillment. Warehouse operations must contend with labor shortages and growing demand, so logistics robots are key to meeting this demand.
Mobile robot provider Locus Robotics said today that it has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Scale Venture Partners (ScaleVP) led the funding round.
“Locus Robotics’ collaborative robots allow warehouse operators to significantly increase worker productivity while economically closing the growing labor gap,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Wilmington, Mass.-based Locus Robotics. “In an economy largely dominated by Amazon, Locus arms independent operators with the means to compete effectively.”
Industry analysts agree that e-commerce demand is likely to make supply chain automation one of the fastest-growing segments for robotics in the next few years. The global market for logistics robots will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33% from 2016 to 2020, according to Technavio.
Annual shipments of logistics robots will increase from 40,000 units in 2016 to 620,000 units worth $2.15 billion by 2021, predicts Tractica. The logistics market will grow from $1.9 billion in 2016 to $22.4 billion in 2021, forecasts Research and Markets. Nielsen predicts a 20% CAGR and a $4 trillion global market by 2020.
“Many companies realize that e-commerce is the fastest-growing part of their business,” said Bruce Welty, president of Locus Robotics. “Last year was the crossover — for every dollar lost in their stores, they’re gaining a dollar in e-commerce. It’s still early days, though.”
“A week ago, I was in Indianapolis, where there are a lot of warehouses. In driving to lunch — probably three-quarters of a mile — I must have seen 40 ‘Help Wanted’ signs,” Faulk told Robotics Business Review. “Getting enough labor is such a massive problem, which we address head-on. We’re seeing a lot of traction.”
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