Pieter Feenstra, CEO, Addverb EMEA (C) Roel Dijkstra Photography / Photo: Fred Libochant
The market for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) is becoming increasingly crowded. One of the newest suppliers is India’s Addverb Technologies, which, under the leadership of Pieter Feenstra, aims to compete with traditional system integrators and the numerous AMR providers.
Addverb Technologies made its debut in the Netherlands last month during the Logistica Next event at the Jaarbeurs. The Indian startup, founded in 2016, attracted a lot of attention with several autonomous robot systems combined with traditional shuttle and pick-to-light technologies.
Gain Market Position
During Logistica Next, it became clear that the system integrator has big plans. The startup wants to grow rapidly in the coming years with complete end-to-end warehouse solutions within the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Early this year, Addverb appointed Pieter Feenstra to manage the growth in this region in the coming years. Under the leadership of Feenstra, who gained a wealth of experience at system integrators Swisslog and Körber, the Indian company aims to capture a market position with its solutions in both the market of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and the traditional market of system integrators.
Pieter Feenstra: “As Addverb, we have to grow fast, because otherwise you will be undercut in this fighting market.”
Showroom in Zoetermeer
The first step in that growth ambition was recently made with the opening of an EMEA headquarters at the Dutch Tech Campus in Zoetermeer. Feenstra says: “The Netherlands is a good location for our European headquarters due to both the connections, the international character and the tax climate. I chose Addverb because of the combination of traditional and new products, but the fact that the headquarters is in the Netherlands was also attractive to me after many jobs outside the Netherlands.”
Remarkably, Addverb is now located in a former Siemens building, where the company will convert a 300-square-meter former server room into a showroom that will be ready early next year.
FMCG and E-Commerce Market
Addverb’s goal is to achieve one billion dollars in revenue worldwide in five years. Feenstra says: “We have to grow fast, but that is necessary because otherwise you will be undercut in this fighting market. Half of that revenue comes from India itself and the other half is split of which 150 million comes from the EMEA region with the biggest markets being Germany, United Kingdom, the Middle East and the Northern European market with Benelux and Scandinavia as the main regions.”
“We have to grow fast, because otherwise you
will be undercut in this fighting market.
In the EMEA region, the future Indian unicorn focuses mainly on projects in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), retail and e-commerce markets. “There we see most growth and we also have the most expertise and products for that. We have been active in the Netherlands for three months now and what we see here is that customers are particularly looking for automated solutions in retail and e-commerce.”
According to Feenstra, the challenges lie particularly in the large volume of small orders and how this picking process can be automated. “In the Netherlands mainly medium-sized companies and companies from the logistics service sector are interested in our systems. For some of these companies many things are still new, but logistics service providers are usually well informed about the latest robot innovations and often want to start with something small and then expand it further. These aren’t immediately large investments of 50 million euros, but more like half a million to perhaps two million. That is easier to achieve with the mobile robot systems we offer than for example with a large shuttle system or mini load.”
The supply of autonomous mobile robotics is currently very broad and due to the large number of providers, a true competitor market has arisen in that area in recent years. Feenstra sees a division between two competitors for Addverb: the established order with well-known system integrators, and AMR providers who are often limited to specific products. The latter do that very well, but if as a customer you need more than one type of product than it stops with these parties.”
Everything in your own hands
The established system integrators, despite being in the process of catching up, have a disadvantage compared to Addverb, because they are not yet as advanced with their mobile robot technology. Feenstra: “With most of them, this technology is still an afterthought. It is rising, but many traditional system integrators are in a startup phase or choose to form partnerships with other AMR specialists and therefore do not yet have the technology themselves.
“ Mobile robot technology is neglected
by most system integrators
In that area, we are profiling ourselves as the party that can deliver the same as the incumbents, but also offer autonomous mobile robot solutions from our own hands.”
Differentiate with WMS
Another aspect in which the Indian company is leading the way and wants to distinguish itself in the market is software development. Feenstra says, “For the development of our own warehouse management, warehouse control and fleet management system, we employ just under two hundred people. Especially in the area of WMS we know how to distinguish ourselves. We also want this in the future to be reflected in Gartner’s magic quadrant.
“The software drive is very
strong within Addverb.”
Especially also to show that our WMS is not only intended to control our own systems, but that we can also sell this software as standalone. The software drive is very strong within Addverb. That makes us strong especially also in combination with both traditional material handling solutions and new robot automation that we supply ourselves.”
According to Feenstra, Addverb’s distinctiveness lies in the fact that the focus is in finding solutions for customers using its own products rather than just offering one or two specific systems.
Collaboration with Element Logic
“In addition, we are looking for strategic partnerships with large companies that can cover markets or sectors that we as Addverb cannot serve. A recent example of this is Element Logic, the largest Autostore distributor in the world. This is a great match, because we don’t have this goods-to-man system while for some of our customers it fits perfectly in combination with our AMR solutions. Another good partner over time could also be a sorting conveyor supplier.”
In five years Feenstra says the Indian company’s ambition is to achieve sales of around 150 million euros in the EMEA region, of which 30 to 40 million in the Benelux. “We won’t be the biggest by then but we’ll matter.”
This post is based on the interview which was originally posted as an article on Logistiek.nl