India’s logistics sector is estimated to reach $215 Bn (INR 15 lakh crore) by 2020. With digitisation and ecommerce being integral parts of businesses today, it is imperative that the solutions which enable their smooth operation are efficient and effective. Automation of different links across the supply chain in the last decade has ensured this to a great extent. In fact, the rise of the robotics and technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing and warehousing have been the key factors fuelling the growth of this industry across the globe.
While many startups have mushroomed in the logistics space and are using technology to streamline some aspects of supply chain like last mile delivery, transportation, etc. There remains a huge gap in the intra-logistics and warehousing aspect. This gap, means a big business opportunity and that is what led to the inception of Addverb — a startup focussed on providing end-to-end warehouse automation solutions.
The Inception Of Addverb
It was in the summer of 2016, when a group of friends and co-workers, decided to leave their job at Asian Paints to setup a robotics startup what would eventually be called Addverb. While at Asian Paints, they realised factories in India were using automation solutions from big corporations outside India. These solutions had little scope of customisation as per the requirement of factories and their operations in India, thus leading to a large ramp up and commissioning time, thereby limiting the application of automation solutions to few large and mature organisations.
Thus, to make Indian manufacturing and supply chain more competitive globally, it was imperative to make adoption of automation systems in the country and this was the opportunity which Addverb leveraged.
The startup is developing robotics and automation solutions in India and intends to disrupt the automation space by providing cutting-edge technology solutions best suited for operations in India thus democratising automation for small businesses.
Addverb uses deeptech applications to design and implement automation solutions, thus improving the efficiency and accuracy of intra-logistics operations. The startup has come up in the warehousing space with solutions in mobile robotics,advanced picking technologies, automated storage system, warehouse management software, and various Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions for asset tracking with advanced analytics.
As a startup, usually one has to address problems that have not been addressed so far by the existing enterprises. Most of the solutions that Addverb has implemented fall in the above category. They designed a Robotic Packing Solution for a leading snack company. In this solution, the robot would pick up empty flattened cartons and would give each of the individual cartons a proper shape. The Robot would also then pick the snack packets simultaneously and position it properly into the carton so that the carton is filled to the maximum.
The complexity of the solution was manifold as the Robot had to erect the case and also position the packet in the case simultaneously. With advanced control systems, an efficient gripper design and conveyor tracking, Addverb designed, developed and implemented this solution.. This solution increased the throughput of the entire production line and also made the operation more reliable and smooth.
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“It often becomes difficult to explain the benefit to business if you follow one size fits all approach, our portfolio allows us to choose a product from an extensive range to design a solution that helps the business increase their returns by 10x and break the barrier of ROI on technology, this leads to adoption of technology across all sizes of businesses,” says Bir Singh, Cofounder, Addverb.
Addverb spent a significant amount of time in understanding the market and customer requirements. Their extensive and collective experience of designing some of the most automated factories in their past, helped them gain insights to design innovative solutions and products for diverse group of customers. For instance, Typically, a Grade A warehouse, which utilises the height of the building with vertical stacking and has all operations completely automated, picking and dispatch may require a sortation solution or mobile robots or carton shuttle robot to realise operational efficiencies, but for a Grade C warehouse, which are manual warehouses and use conventional racking to store goods, such an investment might not make economic sense at all. Here a Pick-To-Light or Pick-By-Voice solution, which enhances the productivity of pickers would make more economic sense
“Warehouses in India have been operated manually primarily because of a lack of viable automation solution. It is critical to understand that a retail warehouse of 30,000 sq.ft will require different level of automation as compared to an ecommerce warehouse of 1,00,000 sq. ft. ,” says Sangeet Kumar, Cofounder, Addverb.
Understanding these differences in the operations of diverse businesses, Addverb crafted an extensive product portfolio to solve the problem of flexibility, efficiency, accuracy and scalability for the smallest to the largest warehouse.
Addverb’s Suite Of Solutions
- Khushi (Pick-By-Voice): A concept where a warehouse operator can use voice instructions, in regional languages, to perform the picking and packing operations.
- AddLight (Pick-To-Light): Light directed picking solution that enhances productivity, accuracy and picking rate.
- Pallet Shuttle Robot: A material handling Robot, which is a critical component of the dense storage system for Pallet Load, that enhances the storage space utilisation by elimination of aisles and increasing the throughput of the operations.
- Mobile Robot: Based on natural navigation system, mobile robot fleet are best suited for high throughput operations along with providing great scalability and flexibility.
- Sorting Robot: Based on collision avoidance technology, sorting robots can be used for high sorting requirements like fashion industry, postal and parcel.
- Carton Shuttle Robot: Carton shuttle robot is a Good-To-Person-Picking technology, which utilises the height of the warehouse to increase storage and make picking operation highly flexible, accurate and productive.
- Asset Tracking System: Addverb has pioneered the art of tracking assets within the four walls of a factory or warehouse through bluetooth technology that is customisable, and scalable.
“It becomes critical to understand this difference if you want technology adoption to take place even at the lowest level of the value chain. These nuances of automation business have helped us create a disruption in the entire warehousing space in India,” says Satish Shukla, Cofounder, Addverb.
Understanding Warehouse Automation
Warehouses are a very critical component in any supply chain operations. In India, companies have typically been operating warehouses from the point of view of storage of goods.
Ever rising customer expectations, proliferation of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) and the changing consumption patterns have forced the warehouses to be a value profit centre through increased utilisation, cost optimisation, flexibility and scalability rather than being a mere storage space.
Added to that is the constant demand for warehouses to be close to cities, which bring in the most orders, which also means higher real estate costs. In such circumstances, it is critical to utilise the available storage space more efficiently, reduce the inventory holding period and increase the throughput, and this is only possible through automation.
But, automation itself has had its own set of challenges.
Warehouse automation solutions that have been successful in other countries, do not always suit Indian operations owing to differences in topography, climate, nature of operations, quality of power-supply, etc and the solutions available in India are limited, sometimes prompting a one-size-fits-all approach. This leaves very little scope for customisation of the solution as per the business challenges.
Indigenous automation solutions are able to pass on the benefits of customisation, provide superior customer service, eliminate higher price for an imported technology. These factors are encouraging even small size businesses to go for technology adoption.
While Addverb has been leveraging this and scaling in revenues year-on-year, there are other companies such as GreyOrange with their robotics automation products, iFuture Robotics with robotics for logistics, Fanuc India which builds factory automation technology, Asimov Robotics and traditional players such as Godrej, Honeywell, SSI Schaefer and more that are fighting for their share of the pie in this space.
With a view to dominate the Indian market, the team of over 150 members at Addverb is offering a wide array of solutions. Today the startup has more than 50 installations of various products in India and has been able to establish a credible customer base in the country.
It caters to companies in diverse sectors such as retail, ecommerce, FMCG, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, tyre, food processing, chemical and textiles. Among its clientele are the likes of Reliance, MRF, Patanjali, Havells, Megha Fruits, Coca-Cola, Marico, Asian Paints, ITC, J&J, and more.
The first couple of years for Addverb were spent on building a capable team and completing development of products. Currently, the startup has been able to scale its operations across India, and has also deployed its solutions in Europe.
With an aim to become one of the most innovative robotic companies in the world, Addverb is looking to expand in other markets outside such as the Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa.