ATLANTA—Exotec SAS yesterday announced at its ExoDay event that it has been recognized as the “Overall Robotics Company of the Year” in the annual SupplyTech Breakthrough Awards program. Exotec builds high-density warehouse automation and has been expanding in North America.
“Exotec is revolutionizing the way warehouses operate for the benefit of the entire field—from the people working on the warehouse floors to those awaiting their orders at home,” said Bryan Vaughn, managing director of the SupplyTech Breakthrough Awards, in a press release.
“They demonstrate a strong innovation culture, unique product approach, and commitment to delivering results,” he added. “We're thrilled to name Exotec as 'Overall Robotics Company of the Year' and look forward to further innovation from a company that makes it simple to deliver sustainable, accurate, and profitable order fulfillment through refined and time-tested robotic systems.”
Exotec says award validates approach
“When it comes to warehouse automation, customers need to know that their system works exactly as promised,” stated Romain Moulin, co-founder and CEO of Exotec. “This is the core principle of our product-engineering philosophy that took us from a bootstrapped startup in France to a global robotics company trusted by the world's largest brands.”
“This recognition is yet another proof point that our approach resonates with the market needs and a huge testament to the excellent work of our team,” he said.
Exotec said it combines hardware and software to improve productivity and working conditions for warehouse operators. The Atlanta-based company claimed that more than 30 brands, including Carrefour, Decathlon, Gap, and Uniqlo, use its goods-to-person systems to profitably navigate rapid shifts in business models and customer expectations.
Exotec raised $335 million in Series D funding in January.
ExoDay exhibits systems and support
As Exotec continues growing to meet demand, it hosted suppliers, integrators, clients, and local organizations at its new headquarters in Atlanta. (The company paid for Robotics 24/7's travel.) Exotec showed off its customer system-design process, its warehouse technologies, its North American Control Center, and its Service Center.
Clayton Everhart, a sales engineer at Exotec, explained that the company focuses on modular products rather than custom designs for scalability. He added that integrators can help with gathering information about a customer's processes and environment, as well as creating a budget, while Exotec handles the exact pricing, including maintenance.
“There are no hidden fees,” Everhart said. The company contractually guarantees 98% uptime, and it ties employees' bonus pay to performance.
Exotec's “Abracadata” in-house software can take raw data from a warehouse management system (WMS) and quickly determine how many bins, robots, and shifts are needed. With dimensioning information, Exotec can quickly configure systems, and it continues to study operations during the first phase of deployment, Everhart added.
Stanislas Normand, managing director for North America at Exotec, discussed the Deepsky software for mission planning. The Control Center in Atlanta works alongside centers in France and Japan for round-the-clock coverage, he said.
Screens in the center showed the status of robot fleets for retailers, grocery chains, industrial parts and healthcare suppliers, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs).
When Exotec's robots encounter problems, they can be solved remotely in most cases, said Beau Martin, manager of Exotec's Service Center. However, the failure of an entire unit or an unexpected problem, like a gallon of sticky grape juice exploding at the top of a rack, will occasionally require more direct human intervention, he said. There is typically one technician onsite per Exotec deployment.
Panel discusses customer challenges
Robotics 24/7 moderated a panel on “How Automation Is Evolving to Meet Supply Chain Challenges.” Josiah Girton, senior manager for building operations at Ariat, described how labor scarcity drove the apparel retailer toward robotics.
However, the transition from manual processes to software and data-driven automation requires effort, patience, and teamwork, observed Drew Bailey, vice president of design engineering at 3PL GEODIS. Companies considering automation should make their requirements clear to robotics suppliers and integrators, he said.
Girton and Bailey cited challenges such as changing how they measure a floor's grade before implementing Skypod. Both noted that they were ultimately pleased with the results of their deployments, including significant increases in throughput.
Integrators can help assess a customer's processes and collaborate to ensure successful deployments, but the learning curve can be steep, said Zac Boehm, vice president of robotic solutions at Hy-Tek Intralogistics.
Exotec has worked hard to be a trusted partner to provide both performance and flexibility, added Williams. He acknowledged that artificial intelligence could further improve vision and the picking process.
From left: Robotics 24/7's Eugene Demaitre moderated an ExoDay panel with Ariat's Josiah Girton, GEODIS' Drew Bailey, Hy-Tek's Zac Boehm, and Exotec's Andy Williams. Credit: Hershey Herskowitz, CTO, Apparel Direct Distributors
More robotics recognition
Last month, the 2023 CNBC Disruptor 50 list included Exotec. Now in its eleventh year, the annual list identifies fast-growing start-ups that are “developing new business models and inspiring change within the business landscape,” said the company.
“We moved up from 46 to 11,” noted Moulin. At ExoDay, Exotec recognized Hy-Tek Intralogistics as its integrator of the year.
At Momentum 2023 in Phoenix last month, Manhattan Associates awarded Exotec the 2023 MVP Excellence Award in the Technology & Solution category for its work with Alliance Automotive Group France, the largest independent distributor of truck and automotive parts in France.
This year's SupplyTech Breakthrough Awards attracted more than 1,400 nominations from over 15 countries. The categories included inventory management, supply chain visibility, transportation management, materials handling, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and more.
Part of the Tech Breakthrough organization, SupplyTech Breakthrough is an independent market intelligence organization. It evaluates and recognizes innovative and leading technology companies, products, and services in the supply chain and logistics industry around the world.
Eugene DemaitreEugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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Exotec's Control Center in Atlanta monitors all of its North American deployments.
Exotec builds goods-to-person warehouse robotic solutions for the world’s largest brands. The Croix, France-based company said it combines the best of hardware and software to offer flexible warehouse systems that drive operational efficiency, add resiliency, and improve working conditions for warehouse operators.
More than 30 brands including...