December 10, 2019

A Startup to Replace Storemen with Robots / Secret Firmy

Ronavi Robotics is the only Russian developer and mass producer of logistic robots designed for autonomous operation at warehouses. Robot-operated warehouses make it possible to double the storage density and speed up the picking ten times.

How the project came into being

Ronavi was established in 2014 when there was no market of logistic robots anywhere in the world. However as early as then Amazon, one of the largest online retailers, spent $750 mln to buy a startup that specialized in production of logistic robotic systems. It laid the foundations for Amazon Robotics, a new division that started producing machines to be exclusively used at the warehouses of the giant company.

Development of robotic warehouses significantly cuts the costs in the expansive segment of online trade, namely, those related to lighting, heating and air-conditioning. Storage of items rapidly becomes denser, which results in larger storage capacity. So it is possible to raise performance keeping the same number of workers.

Besides, global online trade has reached such a rate of growth that the old logistic infrastructure can no longer cater for the emerging needs. And we figured that all Russian and global supermarket chains, starting from Magnit to Alibaba, would soon form the market for such robotic systems. It nudged us towards creating our own autonomous robotic system.

For four years the company manufactured its heavyweight logistic robot H-1500 with a lifting capacity of 1500 kg and after it launched its serial production last year it went on to develop other logistic robots.

Photo: Ronavi Robotics

What difficulties were encountered and how they were resolved

The most challenging stage in the development of the company was the transition from the working prototype to serial production. It took us a year and a half to optimize the design, look for alternative suppliers, revise the documentation, and as a result we are now ready to produce robots in thousands.

Where things stand with the project at present

We have two models: direct sales of robots to warehouses and robot-as-service, a service model that doesn’t require buying the robot itself but instead a service of a robotic warehouse. In this case there is no need in capital investment in robots outside the cost of the operational fee.

We develop new robots of other lifting capacities and new functionality, and we are gradually introducing robots to Russian warehouses. Our machines have been the first in the world to be integrated in the SAP WMS system. By the end of 2019, 100 yellow Ronavi robots will have been put in operation in Russia.

Where the money came from

The startup was created by TechnoSpark that has been funding Ronavi from its own budget since it was launched in 2019, and as soon as the business model of our robotic company became clear, it opened the company for investment. We are ready for a scale-up.

We are selling Ronavi H-1500 robots at $30,000 a piece, which is at the bottom of the price range for such a product. All generated profits are put back into the company development.

What we are planning for the future

In the nearest future we are planning to bring out an entire line of logistic robots to the market.

Today we are in search of companies that are willing to introduce the technology and operate robotic warehouses of various types.

Source: Secret Firmy Magazine
Date: December 10, 2019

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