Zebra Technologies, a provider of hardware and software for warehouse fulfillment and inventory management, has acquired Fetch Robotics for $290 million, after an initial investment and partnership that dates back two years to augment workflows between robots and Zebra devices.
Zebra acquired a 5% stake in Fetch two years ago, and is purchasing the bulk of the company and its assets now.
“Fetch Robotics offered the right mix of an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) portfolio, engineering talent and cloud expertise in warehouse automation,” said Jim Lawton, VP and GM, Robotics Automation for Zebra Technologies. “We have gotten to know each other over the past two years, working together as our companies shared mutual customers across logistics, 3PL, manufacturing and retail.”
Lawton said Fetch Robotics is a good fit within Zebra’s intelligent industrial automation strategy, in addition to AMR technology providing application-specific modules, navigation and cloud-based fleet management. Fetch, based in the tech hub of San Jose, CA, was founded by its CEO Melonee Wise in 2014. She has a robotics resume dating back to 2002.
“The combination of Zebra’s workflow solutions for human workers and Fetch for autonomous workers will provide a unique and differentiated offering that will drive greater efficiencies and higher ROI through better orchestration of these assets,” he said.
Zebra Technologies is known for its handheld devices like scanners for inventory tracking, as well as software and automation technology including robots that scan shelves to track out of stock items.
Lawton said Zebra’s software optimizes warehouse picking across piece, case and pallet workflows. Combined with Fetch’s AMRs, it can dynamically orchestrate the movement of workers and robots in a facility.
With demand so high for ecommerce fulfillment and labor headwinds making it increasingly difficult for companies to tackle it, expect more of these kinds of linkups with so many robotics companies on the market. Two years ago, Shopify acquired 6 River Systems for $450 million to add robotic automation capabilities to its then-new fulfillment offering.
Last fall, Fetch partnered with warehouse execution software firm Vargo, as did robotic sortation and grasping maker Kindred, to help sync robotics and order flow.