Attabotics, a robotics and supply chain technology company, has secured $50 million in Series C funding led by the Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP), the late-stage venture growth arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. Existing investor Honeywell participated in the round, bringing the company’s total funding to $82.7 million.
The round will be used to further accelerate the commercial deployment of the company, invest in new technologies and scale manufacturing operations.
Inspired by the movements within ant colonies, Attabotics condenses a traditional warehouse into a single, vertical storage structure. The fulfillment system is designed to replace the rows and aisles of traditional fulfillment centers with a patented storage structure and robotics shuttles that move in three-dimensional space (X, Y, and Z axes) to store and deliver goods to workers on the perimeter who pick, pack and ship commerce orders.
The robots travel up and down elevators to retrieve goods from bins surrounding the shafts and can also travel horizontally across the grid. On the ground, personnel interact with a touchscreen to dictate the robotic shuttles’ movements.
The technology is designed to reduce a company’s warehouse footprint by 85 percent to reduce real estate costs and empower retailers to place fulfillment centers near high-density urban areas for quicker last-mile fulfillment.
“We created Attabotics to provide brands and retailers with the tools they need to compete and be successful in modern commerce,” Scott Gravelle, founder, CEO and chief technology officer of Attabotics told Sourcing Journal in an Up Close conversation. “We know that micro-fulfillment is the future and believe that we have the best tech for it, but micro-fulfillment isn’t a standalone solution. It needs to be part of an optimized multi-tenancy network utilizing cloud, AI, and a distributed shared infrastructure to get the right goods in the right market to the right people at the lowest cost in the shortest amount of time.”
Attabotics, headquartered in Alberta, Canada, raised $25 million in July 2019, and currently has six live installations in North America spanning customers across retail, B2B and food and beverage, with its most notable retail client being Nordstrom. The retailer uses both Attabotics and Tompkins Robotics technologies throughout multiple facilities in California.
Attabotics also partners with Microsoft for cloud-based supply chain management on the Azure platform. Microsoft’s Data Factory technology translates ERP data to ensure Attabotics gets standardized actionable information on its end, a critical component of enabling multi-tenancy facilities.
The apparel industry doesn’t leverage robotics technology nearly as much as other sectors, with manufacturers across automotive, electronics, plastics and chemicals and metals comprising 70 percent of robotics usage, according to a May survey from MIT. But the Attabotics funding round comes as more apparel retailers are at least making attempts to scale the capabilities. For example, both American Eagle and Gap have recently expanded their use of Kindred apparel sorting robotics within select distribution centers.
Other robotics companies such as Geek+ ($200 million), Covariant ($40 million), Locus Robotics ($40 million) and Berkshire Grey ($263 million) all have received funding rounds in 2020, showing that these companies are growing in demand as shoppers continue to make more purchases online.
Worldwide shipments of warehousing and logistics robots will grow to 938,000 units annually by 2022 from 194,000 units in 2019, according to Tractica, a market intelligence firm that focuses on emerging technologies. It estimates that worldwide revenue for the category will increase to $30.8 billion in 2022 from $8.3 billion in 2018, providing significant opportunities for established participants and emerging players to leverage robotics efficiently.