Robots are well-suited to the sort of simple, monotonous tasks that suck up hours of factory workers’ time and attention. That’s why the market for intelligent machines designed to work alongside humans is forecast to be worth $3.1 billion by 2020, and why companies like Foxconn, Apple’s manufacturing partner, have already deployed tens of thousands of them in assembly plants overseas.
GreyOrange is dreaming bigger. The robotics systems company, which is registered out of Singapore, today announced that it plans to establish a headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, where it’ll hire 50 new employees and deploy 740 robots ahead of the construction of a local manufacturing facility in the U.S. It’ll also open a research and development center in Boston, Massachusetts to “further expand its technology development capability,” and in the next three years intends to deploy an additional 20,000 robots in factories across the country.
“GreyOrange is the world’s largest supply chain robotics company and the global leader of robotics technology for operating flexibly automated warehouses,” Samay Kohli, CEO and cofounder of GreyOrange, said in a statement. “With our expansion into the United States … we will transform warehouse processes and efficiency and enhance employee engagement and retention, bringing it on par with tech jobs.”
One robot in its fleet is the Butler PickPal, a logistics center bot the company announced in March. Using computer vision and a six-axis robotic arm, it can automatically pick up boxes, pouches, bottles, and vacuum-sealed packages up to 8.8 pounds and, working collaboratively with a warehouse worker, achieve 500-600 picks per hour.
Another is the Linear Sorter, a high-speed packaging robot that can recognize and tender thousands of retail SKUs. In August, it was deployed in a new distribution center in Maharashtra, India, where it now handles more than 8,000 different apparel products across 1,500 styles.
GreyOrange is principally focused on supply chain management, where it sees an opportunity to reduce 10 to 15 percent of inventory in transit. Less excess inventory means companies can run their supply chain more efficiently, the company points out. It claims that one of its clients in Japan saw a 15 percent increase in warehouse storage efficiency and a four times increase in throughput, and that another in Latin America was able to fulfill 50 percent more orders while reducing costs.
“Embracing robots, who work hand-in-hand with humans, enables our customers to boost overall productivity, minimize inventory waste, increase consumer choice, and improve their company’s bottom line,” Kohli said. “We strongly believe in preparing our customers for the future so that they focus on what they do best, without sacrificing their unique strengths.”
GreyOrange was founded in 2011 and has offices in Singapore, India, Japan, Germany, and the U.S. It has raised more than $35 million from investors including Tiger Global Management and Blume Ventures and counts more than 450 among its staff, including a research and development team of 250.
Its competitors include Los Angeles-based InVia robotics, a startup that leases automated robotics technologies to fulfillment centers, and Gideon Brothers, a Croatia-based industrial robots startup led by TransferWise cofounder Taavet Hinrikus.