For many years integrators have engineered, built and installed automation machinery for their manufacturer clients. As manufacturing has begun to move from mass production to mass customization, the integration process has required more flexibility and increasingly used robots as part, if not all, of the solution.
On my recent research trip to Odense, Denmark, the value offered by integration firms was clearly evident in the integrator companies I visited. Each quietly went about helping their manufacturer clients solve production problems by designing, building, testing and installing complete or partial automated manufacturing lines and systems. They all appeared to be having success pains: each had recently moved into larger quarters and were quickly filling the new space, and each was finding it difficult to hire all the technical talent they sought.
PrecisionAg’s editor Eric Sfiligoj has prepared a list of the top 10 technologies that are shaping precision ag today. Most involve some level of robotics, navigation, sensors and variable rate dispensing.
Case IH (Case New Holland International Harvester) displayed their new cab-less tractor at a farming show in Iowa. The presentation was to show off what they hope will be the future: an autonomous tractor without a steering wheel, pedals or a cab for the driver.
August was another big month for funding robotic startups. 18 deals. Almost $430 million (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion)! Plus, another $1 billion paid in August for four acquisitions.
In anticipation of the need for LiDAR devices in cars with assisted steering and other self-driving technologies, both Velodyne and Quanergy received funding. Quanergy raised $90 million and Velodyne got $150 million.
Bringing a complex new product to market is an intensive process fraught with problems. Getting hardware ready for manufacturing is often the easy part; it’s the software and regulatory compliance that’s often the most challenging. Here are three examples: Ford Motor Co., Velodyne LiDAR and Jibo.
Chinese consumer manufacturer Midea, after having spent over $4 billion to acquire 94% of German robot maker Kuka, is planning to spend an additional $1.5 billion to turn itself into China’s preeminent robot powerhouse.
International Data Corporation (IDC) has awarded five pioneering players in the warehouse robotics market with the 2016 IDC Innovators Award. Companies selected met the following criteria: revenue of less than $50 million with an innovative technology, or a groundbreaking new business model, or both.
Spin-offs are disrupting, but often necessary. Here are two recent examples: iRobot sold off its Defense & Security Business Unit to a private equity firm, and Harvest Automation sold the IP and work in process of its warehousing robot group to a new venture-backed startup.
Despite all the high-profile billion-dollar acquisitions, eg: ARM by SoftBank, KUKA by Midea and Uber China by Didi Chuxing, M&A are down 19% this year, according to both Forbes and CB Insights. Buyers are buying, but they are seeking cash-positive market-realistic targets. Values (both monetary and vanity) are taking a hit. What’s a startup to do?
According to CB Insights, startups can (1) get bought at a lower valuation and take the hit; (2) lower their cash burn rate and play the long game; or, (3), if they already have strong fundamentals and good growth, continue on.
The number of research reports studying the robotics industry is growing exponentially. To date in 2016 there have been 109 on subjects ranging from overly broad to very drilled-down views of the industry. Prices range from $800 to $6,500.
Below are short profiles of 62 of those reports and the other 47 can be seen here. Many of the reports duplicate the coverage of others and frequently differ in their forecasts about the future. Some reports are marginally useful, others are full of valuable information. Bottom line: almost all of the reports are forecasting positive double-digit growth for most segments of the robotics industry.
First, the KION Group acquires Dematic for $2.5 billion. A week later, Honeywell acquires Intelligrated for $1.5 billion. KION acquires Retrotech and earlier still Egemin, while Kuka acquires Swisslog. What’s going on?
UPDATE: June 1, 2016: Forbes wrote today that Toyota is in discussions with Google not only for Boston Dynamics but also for Schaft, the Japanese startup that won the DARPA Robotics Challenge — a two-company sale.