September 01, 2016      

Logistics robotics is an area of rapid growth, as supply chain and industrial automation providers converge in response to the demand for flexible, accurate, and rapid order fulfillment.

Last week, Bossa Nova Robotics Holding Corp. filed for a total of $15 million in equity financing.

The company, which has offices in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, had previously raised $10.73 million. Bossa Nova Robotics develops robots for inventory in retail stores. It said it is testing the robots with “five of the world’s leading retail chains.”

As global shipments of mobile robots increase from 4 million in 2012 to 25.4 million in 2020, the fastest-growing sector will be logistics robotics, where shipments will increase from 1,400 in 2012 to 95,000 in 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio.

Competitive pressures on supply chains and workforce shortages are among the reasons why “2016 is the year of warehouse robots,” noted Eagan, Minn.-based logistics provider Cerasis Inc.

Bossa Nova Robotics filed Form D, a notice of exempt offering of securities, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Walden Riverwood Ventures (WRV) and private investors are providing funding, which Bossa Nova plans to use to get its mobile robots into retail stores.

“Bossa Nova addresses a multi-billion dollar opportunity within the retail marketplace and is a technology that can be immediately deployed by major retail chains,” said Nicholas Brathwaite, a partner at WRV in San Francisco. “The product has already proven successful in stores and integrates seamlessly with existing inventory management systems.”

Robot moves in Mitteleuropa and the Middle East

In June, TGW Logistics Group acquired CHM Automatisierungstechnik GmbH, which has been renamed TGW Robotics as a 100 percent-owned subsidiary. The terms of the transaction were not specified.

TGW Robotics will continue to produce CHM's logistics robotics.

CHM will apply its experience to automated single-piece picking.

Germany-based CHM will retain its current location and staff of 60, and it will continue to build gantry robots and picker arms, as well as control systems and other palletizing equipment. CHM has been a partner of TGW.

“We are convinced that the future belongs to robotics,” said Georg Kirchmayr, president of Austria-based TGW Logistics. “Now that we have the expertise in-house, we’re looking forward to introducing even more exciting and innovative developments into our portfolio.”

In other warehouse automation news, GreyOrange Pte. is expanding its operations from India and East Asia to the Middle East. The company raised $30 million last year to fund this expansion as well as to improve research and development.

This past spring, investors in Chattanooga, Tenn., have started the $3 million Dynamo accelerator, which will invest in startups involved with autonomous trucks, drones, and software, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Why Tennessee? The Chattanooga area is a hub for manufacturing and logistics operations, including some of those of FedEx Corp, United Parcel Service Inc., and Volkswagen AG.

Packaging firm buys robotics tester

More recently, Pro Mach Inc. acquired Zarpac Inc. to improve its position as a leader in integrated packaging systems. Cincinnati-based Pro Mach supports the food and beverage, consumer goods, and pharmaceutical industries.

Pro Mach said its installed base has more than doubled since 2010, and its sales outside the U.S. have more than tripled.

Oakville, Ontario-based Zarpac has operations in Iowa and China and provides services including robotics testing and integration worldwide.

“Consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical companies large and small are looking for competitive advantages that help them produce and package their products more efficiently with higher quality, less waste, increased profit, and better resolution of issues that impact performance,” said Barry Heiser, president of global filler and integrated solutions at Pro Mach.

More on Logistics Robotics:

Lowe’s puts robots in San Jose stores

This week, Lowe’s Cos. said it will roll out the NAVii service robots in 11 of its stores in the San Francisco Bay area. The deployment will occur over the next seven months.

The Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer had tested the OSHbot at Orchard Supply Hardware sites in San Jose, Calif., for the past two years. (Editor’s note: RoboBusiness will be in San Jose later this month.)

The autonomous NAVii, or LoweBot, will be able to answer customer questions, scan inventory, and free staffers for other tasks, said Lowe’s, which worked with Fellow Robots Inc. to develop the mobile robots.

“We designed the NAVii robot to make the shopping experience easier for consumers — simplifying the process of finding the product you’re looking for — while also managing the back end and keeping shelf inventory up to date for the retailer,” said Marco Mascorro, Fellow Robots CEO. “Leaving the data and simple recommendations to NAVii allows Lowe’s employees to devote their attention to the Lowe’s customer, to provide them with thoughtful advice and personalized service.”