GrayMatter raises $45M Series B to ease robot programming for manufacturers

GrayMatter automated manually intensive tasks at Lawrence Brothers. Source: GrayMatter Robotics

Like businesses in other industries, U.S. manufacturers face widening labor shortfalls and need automation to help fill those gaps. GrayMatter Robotics today announced that it has raised $45 million in Series B funding. The Carson, Calif.-based company said it plans to use the investment to expand to meet customer demand. 

“We founded GrayMatter to enhance productivity while prioritizing workforce well-being,” stated Ariyan Kabir, co-founder and CEO of GrayMatter Robotics. “With our physics-based AI-powered systems, we are fulfilling our mission while unlocking new levels of efficiency. With our investors’ support, we are making a real difference for shop workers and addressing the critical labor shortages in manufacturing today.”

GrayMatter Robotics said it bundles proprietary artificial intelligence with off-the-shelf robots, sensors, and tools for application-specific, turnkey solutions. The company offers its systems through a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model and said they relieve shop floor workers of tedious and ergonomically challenging tasks. They can also enhance production capacity and reduce scrap, repair, and rework costs, it said. 

GrayMatter applies AI to production tasks

The $2.5 trillion U.S. manufacturing industry is grappling with a growing backlog of unfilled orders due to a severe labor shortage. Many of these roles are hazardous and demand extensive training, leading to a critical gap of 3.8 million unfilled jobs, according to Deloitte.

SK Gupta, Ariyan Kabir, and Brual Shah founded GrayMatter Robotics in 2020. The company said it holds 10 patents and has processed more than 7.5 million sq. ft. (about 700,000 sq. m) of product surface area.

GrayMatter said its proprietary GMR-AI technology enables robots to self-program and adapt to high-mix, high-variability manufacturing environments, providing consistent quality and reducing cycle times. 

Smart workcells with GrayMatter technology can autonomously handle complex tasks such as sanding, polishing, grinding, coating, and finishing, it added. By automating such jobs, businesses can meet global demand while also improving the quality of life for their workers, said the company. 

Products including Scan&Sand, Scan&Polish, Scan&Buff, and Scan&Grind can increase quality and consistency while reducing costs, said GrayMatter. Manufacturers can benefit a system availability of 95% to 98%, and most contingencies can be resolved in under five minutes, it said.

GrayMatter claimed that its systems can work two to four times faster than manual operations and that employee training that used to take six months can now be done in less than a day. In addition, the company said its robots can help businesses address sustainability goals by reducing consumption and consumable waste by 30% or more over traditional methods.

GrayMatter combines AI and robotics to improve finishing efficiency and reduce waste. Source: GrayMatter Robotics

Users report increased efficiencies

Over the past two years, GrayMatter Robotics has deployed robots across North America in aerospace, defense, specialty vehicles, marine, recreation, metal fabrication, and consumer products. The company said its RaaS model helps manufacturers enhance production capacity and reduce costs associated with scrap, repair, and rework.

“We are excited to partner with GrayMatter Robotics, as their AI-driven robotic solutions have enabled us to more efficiently address major demand growth in our operations stemming from increased football participation and market-share gains, ensuring consistent quality and throughput despite workforce staffing challenges,” said Drew Dixon, director of distribution and strategy at sports equipment maker Riddell.

“Collaborating with GrayMatter Robotics underscores Riddell’s ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence in both its manufacturing operations as well as the protective equipment it delivers to the field,” he added.

“GrayMatter helps us replace some of our more taxing manual labor,” said Melanie Protti-Lawrence, president of steel fabricator Lawrence Brothers Inc. “We are proud to partner with GrayMatter in an effort to provide longevity in the workforce. We’re constantly working toward a healthier work-life balance, with a focus on working to live rather than living to work.”

“Their robots are not just tools but [also] enablers of growth,” she said. “They allow our workers to engage in more meaningful and less physically taxing tasks, contributing to a healthier and more productive work environment.”

Investors help GrayMatter to grow

With the new capital, GrayMatter is actively hiring for a wide range of roles to meet customer demands, expanding its Los Angeles headquarters, and accelerating the development and deployment of its next-generation AI-powered robots.

Wellington Management led the Series B round, which also included NGP Capital, Euclidean Capital, Advance Venture Partners, and SQN Venture Partners. They joined existing investors 3M Ventures, B Capital, Bow Capital, Calibrate Ventures, OCA Ventures, and Swift Ventures.

“GrayMatter is driving a pivotal transformation in manufacturing with their advanced AI solutions,” said Sean Petersen, sector lead for private climate investing at Wellington Management. “Their ability to enhance productivity, energy efficiency and safety while managing costs, positions them uniquely in the market.”

Wellington Management Co. advises 2,500 clients in more than 60 countries. The Boston-based firm manages more than $1.2 trillion for clients, including pensions, endowments and foundations, insurers, and global wealth managers.

Wellington’s Private Investing Team has raised more than $8.5 billion in global assets, and it invests in multiple sectors and technologies. The team includes more than 1,000 professionals with private market experience with public market expertise, extensive networks, and robust research to benefit both investors and entrepreneurs.

“The combination of AI-driven technology and depth of domain expertise in the GrayMatter solution blew us away,” said Debjit Mukerji, partner at NGP Capital. “It is incredibly challenging to develop high-performance and ultra-reliable robots for such difficult manufacturing conditions.”

“Going to market with GrayMatter Robotics aligns with our mission to foster innovative solutions that drive efficiency and sustainability in manufacturing,” said Adi Leviatan, president of 3M’s Abrasives Division. “This technology addresses critical industry challenges and delivers significant value to our customers.”

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