I’ve been in India for a few months now, and sometimes a local news article gets my supply chain wheels turning.
That happened when I saw this article about Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 India list. I poked around to see what some of the companies are working on, and was surprised to see a logistics-related company make the cut for the 2016 list. Warehouse and inventory management may get me and EBN readers excited, but it’s not usually sexy enough to be noticed in the mainstream technology sector.
However, add the words robotics and automation around the word logistics, and that captures the interest of techies, consultants and Wall Street moguls alike.
This is why GreyOrange earned recognition: Its idea of using robots to improve logistics and warehouse management stirs up the imagination, and reminds all of us that what once was considered science fiction is becoming reality.
GreyOrange designs, manufactures, and deploys advanced robotics systems for automation at warehouses, distribution and fulfilment centers. It mixes hardware and software engineering expertise to optimize logistics and supply chain processes.
It was founded in 2011 by a couple of tech-engineering-robotic whizzes who have made several who’s who lists, like this recent Money-CNN one and this Forbes India article from a couple years ago. In a few years, it has grown; it’s headquartered in Singapore and has offices in India, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. However, its research and development center isn’t in Silicon Valley -- it’s in Gurgaon, India, a city I spent some time in recently and a place that looks poised to give well-known tech hubs like Bangalore a pretty good run for its money.
This is by no means an advertisement endorsing GreyOrange. What struck me most as I read about the company was its potential, and the potential for this budding space of logistics automation improvement.
First, this is essentially an Indian company (that now happens to be based in Singapore) competing in the global market for a piece of the attractive logistics and warehouse automation market. It’s not something you hear every day in the logistics space.
Source: ARC Advisory Group
The robotic niche usually suggests U.S, European, Japanese, and Korean companies that have brand reputations and big R&D and technology manufacturing budgets. It’s nice to see a start-up enter the fray and stir up competition.
The second reason ties to the first. Robotics in logistics and warehousing is still a young market. Although robotics in manufacturing are commonplace, the demand for robotic solutions in the logistics space is just starting to tick upwards. But it could grow rapidly as logistics providers look for greater economic advantages and operating efficiencies, according to a Tractica report.
Tractica estimates that worldwide warehousing and logistics robot unit shipments will rise from 40,000 in 2016 to 620,000 units annually by 2021. The market intelligence firm forecasts that global market revenue will grow from $1.9 billion in 2016 to a potential market value of $22.4 billion by the end of 2021.
And, third, there is an engineering-supply chain crossover that’s interesting to follow. Founders Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta are taking their engineering backgrounds and applying that experience to logistics management and automation, a move that has earned GreyOrange venture capital and hedge fund money to build out their business model. I can’t help but wonder how the thought process and conversations with clients go, but it seems like it’s a next-step jump as talks evolve from design for manufacturability to design for supply chain to possibly design for delivery.
What other cool developments are you seeing in logistics automation? Let us know in the comments section.