Zebra Technologies Corp. today announced its intention to acquire autonomous mobile robot, or AMR, provider Fetch Robotics Inc. The companies said they will combine Zebra's asset tracking and management expertise with Fetch's automation to expand into the manufacturing, logistics, and warehousing markets.
“The Fetch team is excited to join Zebra and accelerate the adoption of flexible automation through AMRs and our cloud-based robotics platform,” stated Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics. “By helping customers dynamically optimize and holistically orchestrate their fulfillment, distribution, and manufacturing operations, together we help enable their ability to stay ahead of growing demand, minimize delivery times, and address shrinking labor pools.”
“The acquisition of Fetch Robotics will accelerate our Enterprise Asset Intelligence vision and growth in intelligent industrial automation by embracing new modes of empowering workflows and helping our customers operate more efficiently in increasingly automated, data-powered environments,” said Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Zebra Technologies. “This move will also extend our ongoing commitment to optimize the supply chain from the point of production to the point of consumption.”
Zebra tracks assets, workflows
Zebra Technologies said it serves industries including retail/e-commerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and healthcare. The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company has more than 10,000 partners across 100 countries and said it enables every asset and worker to be visible, connected, and fully optimized. Zebra added that its systems can elevate the shopping experience, track and manage inventory, as well as improve supply chain efficiency and patient care.
Current Zebra offerings focusing on human workflows, such as FulfillmentEdge and SmartSight, will complement Fetch Robotics' systems to drive greater efficiencies and higher returns on investment (ROI) through better orchestration of people and technology, said the company.
“Our goal is to give robots and people the opportunity to do their very best work,” said Bill Burns, chief product and solutions officer at Zebra. “This acquisition is a continuation of what we expect to be a series of innovations that reflect our commitment to creating solutions that help our customers improve their operations through robotics.”
Zebra has been working with Fetch, and it also recently acquired Adaptive Vision and expanded its machine vision offerings.
Fetch Robotics manages robots in the cloud
San Jose, Calif.-based Fetch Robotics said its mobile robots, software, and services are used for optimized picking in fulfillment and distribution centers, just-in-time material delivery in factories, and automating material movement in almost any facility. It claimed that its AMRs can help reduce the impact of labor shortages by improving throughput, efficiency, and productivity while working alongside people.
The company added that its AMRs can be seamlessly integrated with enterprise systems without changes to warehouse or manufacturing infrastructure.
In addition to its portfolio of AMRs, Fetch offers the FetchCore cloud-based software for deploying and integrating automated workflows. It said the system can provide unique insights into facilities through machine learning on AMR sensor data.
“The Fetch Cloud Robotics Platform provides on-demand automation for materials handling and inventory management, with the ability to find, track, and move almost anything in any facility,” said the company.
Fetch added that its Workflow Builder drag-and-drop workflow development studio is intended to allow customers and partners to deploy material handling automation in hours instead of months.
Zebra to close Fetch acquisition in Q3
Zebra said it expects to fund the $290 million purchase price—for the 95% of the business it does not already own—with cash on hand. It added that the planned acquisition furthers its vision of bringing advanced robotics to customers with labor-intensive operations.
“Zebra’s go-to-market footprint and vertical market expertise is expected to drive synergies as we integrate and invest in the business,” said the company. “In [Fetch's] early rapid-growth phase, this high gross-margin profile business is generating annualized run-rate sales of approximately $10 million.”
“The addition of Fetch certainly strengthens the Zebra proposition, especially as it relates to fulfillment,” said John Santagate, vice president of robotics at integrator Körber Supply Chain. “Zebra Fulfillment Edge and Zebra SmartSight are both solution areas that stand to benefit from the addition of a strong AMR platform with a broad range applications across business functions, including manufacturing, fulfillment, distribution, and potentially retail store operations.”
“The AMR market is one that has been ripe for consolidation for several years,” he added. “For Fetch, Zebra, and the market, this acquisition is one that should have a positive impact for all. For Fetch, this move brings them into stable environment that has a proven track record of taking innovative products to market. For Zebra, the company adds an AMR platform that compliments several of the company's strategic software products.”
“And finally for the market, this combination of companies allows a proven leader in business technologies to rapidly advance its solution suite with a product line that is currently one of the most rapidly growing technology segments and accelerate the pace of development,” Santagate said.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021. Vedder Price is serving as legal counsel to Zebra. Fenwick & West is acting as legal counsel, and Evercore is acting as financial advisor to Fetch.