French startup Exotec has raised a $ 335 million Series D round in a new round of financing led by Goldman Sachs' Growth Equity business. Following today's investment, the company has reached a valuation of DKK 2 billion.
Exotec sells a complete end-to-end solution for transforming a standard warehouse into a partially automated logistics platform. It is a hardware and software solution that replaces some human tasks.
83North and Dell Technologies Capital also participated in the financing round. Former Exotec investors include Bpifrance, Iris Capital, 360 Capital Partners and Breega. Some of them, such as Breega, Bpifrances Large Venture Fund and Iris Capital, invested again.
The key component of the Exotec system is called the Skypods. These low-profile robots roam the floor independently. When they are next to the right rack, they can go up the rack to pick up a trash can and then go down with the right trash can. This is especially useful for increasing the stocking density of a warehouse, as you can store products a few feet above the ground.
The Skypod then takes the rubbish bin to a picking station so that human operators can pick up the right product in the rubbish bin. The robot can then go back to the racks and place the trash can back on a shelf.
In that scenario, people no longer have to roam the warehouse. They can focus on picking, packing and making sure products go in and out of the warehouse. When it comes to adding new products, new shelves and new Skypods, Exotec tries to be as flexible as possible.
If you want to add new racks, you can expand your infrastructure without starting over. Similarly, Exotec lets you add more Skypods to the system. And when you receive a delivery of products, Exotec again relies on its Skypods to store products in the Filling Center.
From Skypods to Skypickers
With its standardized waste bin system, Exotec can store multiple products in a single bin. There may be 18 products in that bin, but customers want one, two or three products in that bin - most likely they will not have the entire bin. Therefore, Exotec can not just empty small containers into a larger container to put together an order.
The startup has created new robots to remove humans from yet another step in the ordering process. Exotec customers can now use Skypickers to automatically pick items from a warehouse and put them in a ready-to-ship shipment.
This is what it looks like:
"After the most significant supply chain disruptions of the modern era, there is only room left for innovation," co-founder and CEO Romain Moulin said in a statement. “While the entire logistics sector is fraught with uncertainty, one of the most prevalent challenges is the persistent shortage of labor. Exotec is pioneering a new path: elegant collaboration between human and robot workers that delivers inventory productivity in a lasting, far more sustainable way. "
Exotec has always positioned its product as a service that can not completely replace people. An Exotec warehouse is run by a combination of humans and robots. With Skypickers, however, the start-up positions itself as a logistical advantage in a tight labor market.
Following today's round of funding, the startup plans to hire 500 engineers by 2025 and continue its advance in North America. It has recently drawn eight major customers in the region, such as Gap and Geodis. Decathlon also uses Exotec in its Montreal fulfillment center.