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Vecna Robotics raises more than $100M, hires COO to expand warehouse automation

WALTHAM, Mass. — Although investment in robotics dipped in the past year, suppliers with proven products and business models have been finding funding. Vecna Robotics today announced the close of its Series C round at $100 million, with $40 million in new funding including equity and debt. The financing nearly doubles the company valuation since its Series B round.

“Finalizing this capital raise, with the help of our existing investors and a new financing partner, is huge validation that we are on the right track,” stated Craig Malloy, CEO of Vecna Robotics. “With fresh capital secured, we have the balance sheet to help us drive growth with our existing customers through improved product performance and the release of new automation technology that will change the game for material handling in warehousing and distribution.”

Vecna Robotics said its autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), Pivotal orchestration software, and round-the-clock Command Center can help supply chains automate critical workflows and maximize throughput at scale. The company has tightened its focus to self-driving forklifts, pallet jacks, and tuggers to address widespread labor shortages.

Vecna and GEODIS to automate case picking

Over the past year, Vecna Robotics has combined cloud software updates and investments in its Pivotal Command Center to help customers such as GEODIS, FedEx, Caterpillar, and Shape. They have realized as much as 70% performance improvements in ground-to-ground warehouse workflows including case picking, packaging, and cross-docking, it said.

Vecna said the cash infusion will support the launch of platforms that will enable it to “provide more deployment flexibility and reach into new workflows that are in high demand, while being able to continue delivering operator cost savings from Day 1.”

“GEODIS has been working with Vecna Robotics on the development of a new, groundbreaking case-picking solution that nearly doubles performance,” said Andy Johnston, senior director of innovation at GEODIS. “We are counting on this recent cash infusion at the company to speed up development and launch of a complete, market-ready offering that can be deployed right away.”

Vecna tests in house to ensure reliability

The Robot Report recently visited Vecna Robotics headquarters to see its “bowling alley,” where it tests its AMRs around the clock. The company tests capabilities including the “handshake” between its robots and conveyors.

For instance, during a demonstration, Vecna tested its Co-bot Pallet Jack (CPJ) picking up and dropping off heavy loads beyond what customers typically need. It tracks runtimes and multiple maneuvers, and a staffer stays overnight mainly to swap batteries.

“We’re always pleasantly surprised at our low failure rates,” observed Mark Fox, director of validation at Vecna. “We can replicate the conditions of a typical customer site, including obstacles. We analyze the scene and look at multiple pickups and drop offs so that performance doesn’t drop.”

Vecna has also developed sensing at height, enabled robots to accept some variance from existing maps, and participated in the MassRobotics interoperability standards effort.

“We’re working on applying our technology and data to case picking in addition to pallet movement,” explained test engineer Chinonso Ovuegbe.

What products and sectors are seeing the most demand?

“Self-driving forklifts and tuggers are our most popular products,” replied Fox. “Robotics-as-a-service [RaaS] per month is also popular, but some customers buy our products outright. Third-party logistics providers [3PLs] and automotive are booming.”

Automated forklift with full pallet load at Vecna’s headquarters. Source: Vecna Robotics

Investment and new COO to enable growth

Tiger Global Management, Proficio Capital Partners, and IMPULSE participated in Vecna Robotics’ Series C round. The company said the funding will allow it to deliver rapid returns on investment (ROI) to cost-conscious warehouse operators served by the $165 billion pallet-moving autonomy market.

To support its rapid expansion, Vecna also announced the appointment of Michael Helmbrecht as chief operating officer. He will oversee operations, manufacturing, IT, product, and customer success to ensure that the company continues to meet its customer-defined performance guarantees.

Helmbrecht has nearly 20 years of operations, product, and partnership experience from executive roles at Dell, Lifesize, and Ring Central. He joins Vecna after a year of triple-digit revenue growth, an over 100% increase in deployments, and the announcement of an industry-leading performance guarantee.

Automated pallet truck with full pallet load. Source: Vecna Robotics

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