Discover more from The Future of Manufacturing
Issue #39 - The Future of Manufacturing
Topics this time: merging our Future of Manufacturing community, costs of robots vs. employees, two unicorns and one bankruptcy, many new investments in Q1 2022.
👋 Welcome to Issue #39 👋
this is the first issue of 2022. Building Aveo kept me very busy in the past few months. I will send out this Newsletter quarterly again from now on. Also, I’d really appreciate your support and follow our Aveo journey on LinkedIn.
Enjoy reading - and as always, sharing and feedback is a gift 🙏
PS: I did my first angel investment in manufacturing and invested in Remberg’s €11M Series A led by Earlybird 🚀
I. Our courses
👉 Our latest course on Digital Transformation in Manufacturing ended two weeks ago. We're very grateful to have learned so much from all of our experts and participants in the past 6 weeks. We're convinced that learning together from different perspectives is crucial. Therefore, we're proud that our participants come from very different backgrounds and from more than 5 different countries.
II. Merging our Future of Manufacturing Community
👪 Future of Manufacturing Community: As announced a few days ago, we’re merging our Future of Manufacturing Community with the team behind IIot Use Case. In this post, I’m sharing some thoughts on the community itself, its development and why we took that decision.
Join our first event on Tuesday when we’re talking about different realized IIoT use cases from companies such as Schaeffler.
Got a friend or colleague interested in the future of manufacturing? Help me spread the word by sharing the newsletter if you like it!
III. What I’ve enjoyed reading 👇
🌱 Climate-conscious manufacturing investments
Climate-conscious manufacturing is a nascent industry today but changing consumer demands are forcing investors to take more notice. I think there’s a very strong demand from consumers for more sustainable products. Incumbent manufacturers will have a hard time switching to a more sustainable process quickly, so there’s lots of room for startups to rebuild products in a completely different way. I’m really excited about this development and chatted about it together with Sifted.
🏭 What could be improved in manufacturing?
Hubs asked different experts which innovations we need in manufacturing by 2025. They talked to industry leaders, ranging from mechanical engineers and product designers to material-composite experts and tech journalists, to learn more about what could be improved in manufacturing. Below is a summary of the answers:
Awareness of—and willingness to use—existing advanced technology
Skills and knowledge
Innovations in materials
Improved hybrid and smart manufacturing
Standardization in manufacturing
Improved design-for-manufacturing tools
📈 New record for number of robots sold in North America
2021 set a new record for number of robots sold in North America with 39,708 units according the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). Robotics sales rose 28% from 2020 to 2021, resulting in $2 billion of sales. However, as you can see in the graphic below, the development of robots sold is not as linear as you might think:
🤖 Renting a robot for less than paying a human
To meet the rising demand amid a shortage of workers, more companies are moving towards automation solutions. At the same time, new business models such as “as-a-Service” are arriving in the manufacturing industry. This enables companies to pay for robot by the hour instead of paying everything upfront. In this article, the company is paying $8 per hour for the robot instead of $15 per hour for a human employee. This is especially attractive to small companies which cannot spend a lot of capital to invest in new technology. This robot-as-employee approach can help to spread automation in smaller companies. This does not mean that robots will replace human work anytime soon.
🤖 Sigfox filed for bankruptcy
Sad news. Sigfox - a high profile IoT startup from France that had previously raised more than $300M filed for bankruptcy. Slow sales of its products and challenging conditions in the IoT industry are among the reasons for that move. I can recommend to read this article to better understand the development and challenges of the company. Raising money does not guarantee success.
IV. About industrial Startups and Companies
🤑 Remberg raised an €11M Series A led by Earlybird
Remberg is a German startup that is building an Extended- or Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) System specifically for manufacturing. I’m very bullish on vertical CRMs and was lucky enough to participate in their €11M Series A led by Earlybird. Compared to traditional CRMs, Remberg puts “things” (= equipment, machines, or industrial assets) at the core of the respective business relationships. By doing that, Remberg creates a single source of truth for these “things”. You can read more about Earlybird’s investment thesis in this post.
🤑 Wandelbots raised over $84M in its Series C
Wandelbots is on a mission to make robotics more accessible for everyone. To do so, the company has developed a no-code-robotics platform that enables companies to program, operate and manage their robots in an easy way. Wandelbots will open its platform now to automation solution providers and third-party developers. This will enable developers to build their own robotics applications on Wandelbot’s platform. Its $84M Series C was led by Insight Partners with participation of existing investors such as 83North and Microsoft. Insight Partners has recently invested in many manufacturing startups including Intenseye, CoLab, and SimScale, just mention a few.
🤑 Two new industrial unicorns in Europe: Scandit and Exotec
Scandit has raised a $150M Series D led by Warburg Pincus. Scandit’s product enables employees to use smart devices to capture data from barcodes, text and even the physical objects. A common use case is scanning shelves with a smart device and being told how much inventory they have of a product. Its product is using computer vision to help automate business processes and to provide its customers with insights and data.
Exotec has also entered unicorn territory now with a $2bn valuation and raising a $335M Series D led by Goldman Sachs. The company turns warehouses into a partially automated logistics platform. The core of its solution are the so-called "Skypods”. Skypods are robots that move on the floor autonomously and can also go up the rack to pick items. This enables warehouses to increase the storage density as seen below:
💸 Autodesk acquired Prodsmart to help connect the factory
Prodsmart, a Portuguese-based startup that is developing software to optimize manufacturing processes, has been acquired by Autodesk. The tool helps production managers to get an overview of all processes from order to shipping. It provides a real-time system of record of the shop floor. Prodsmart previously raised $4.5M, the acquisition price has not been disclosed.
🤑 Automata raised a $50M Series B led by Octopus Ventures
Automata started out by developing robotic arms for handling individual tasks. This robotic arm could be used for a variety of common tasks. Over time, the company decided to focus on three core market segments: diagnostics, drug discovery, and synthetic biology. By focusing on these segments, Automata has developed “automation pods” that provide scalable and adaptable workflow solutions for laboratories. These automation pods seem to be very attractive for its customers such as Novartis, the NHS, and the University Hospital Southampton. It helped the company to raise a $50M Series B led by Octopus Ventures - a much bigger round compared to its $7.4M Series A in 2019 and an important milestone. Below is the Automata Lab enclosure with Eva robotic arm next to it:
V. Additional funding news in short 👇
👉 Righthand Robotics: the company behind innovative pick and place systems raised a $66M Series C led by Safar Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and the SoftBank Vision Fund. Read more…
👉 Viam: the robotics platform that relies on standardized building blocks rather than custom code raised a $30M Series A round led by Tiger Global. Read more…
👉 Vecna Robotics: the autonomous mobile robots company raised a $65M Series C led by Tiger Global. Read more…
👉 EMnify: the IoT connectivity provider raised a €50M Series B led by One Peak. Read more…
👉 Operations1: the German based company that develops software to manage operations and connect workers on the shop floor raised €11M led by Open Ocean. Read more…
👉 Robotic Research: to develop autonomous driving technology for a variety of vehicles, the company has raised $228M Series A. Read more…
VI. Additional content and the I40 Landscape
Industry 4.0 Map - Reinventing the Factory Stack
I updated the map in December 2021 - there are now more than 500 industrial startups in the landscape.