In recent years, the development of China's AGV market is in full swing. Especially with the rapid growth of the e-commerce and express delivery industries and the in-depth promotion of smart logistics, the AGV industry is highly favored by capital, and many robot manufacturing companies or technology companies have received investment, further accelerating the development of the industry.
Warehousing, logistics, express delivery, black technology, warehousing, logistics equipment, logistics technology, quick warehouse, Xinsong, Jizhijia, capital, AGV robot
As an important device in the logistics system, in recent years, the market demand for the mobile robot (AGV) has increased significantly, and the industry is in full swing. Especially with the rapid growth of the e-commerce and express delivery industries and the in-depth advancement of intelligent manufacturing and intelligent logistics, highly flexible AGV systems are becoming more and more popular with enterprises. Therefore, the AGV industry has received great attention from the capital market. Many robot manufacturers or technology companies have invested in the Angel Wheel, Pre-A Wheel, A Wheel, and B Wheel, which provides a strong impetus for the development of the AGV industry.
Needless to say, the help of capital has brought major changes to the AGV market, the company's strength has increased rapidly, technology development has changed rapidly, and the market size has continued to expand; however, while AGV companies have received capital support, they also need to think further: the future development of AGV should be In what direction? How can we effectively promote the upgrading and development of enterprises?
I. Hot investment and financing in the AGV market
The AGV market is regarded as a big blue ocean. In recent years, AGV innovative companies have continuously emerged, attracting investment from multiple parties.
In 2018, there were more than ten cases of financing of AGVs alone, which also proves that capital attaches importance to the AGV industry. Looking at the investment and financing situation of the AGV industry in recent years, it can be divided into the following categories:
1. Mainly pure investment institutions
Overall, most of the financing of the AGV industry currently comes from pure investment institutions. For example, Suzhou Aijiwei Robot Co., Ltd.'s first round of financing of 30 million yuan, the investors are Donghe Venture Capital and Shenghong Capital; the Pre-A round of financing of Aiji Radish Robot Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. is mainly funded by Panlin Capital Leading investment, A round of tens of millions of financing is mainly Panlin Capital Investment; Geek + (Ultra Smart) US $ 60 million in B round of financing, led by the private equity investment institution American Huaping Investment Group, the original shareholder volcanic capital, etc. Follow-up investment; Lizi Robot's tens of millions of RMB in Pre-A financing, mainly invested by Light Capital; Whalang Technology won 100 million yuan in B round funding of Yunfeng Fund, Baidu Venture Capital, and Jinshajiang United Capital in November 2017 and many more.
2. E-commerce companies are optimistic about the AGV field
At present, more and more leading e-commerce companies have begun to explore logistics automation and intelligent upgrades, and have invested some capital in the AGV field to achieve cross-border development. For example, innovation on the road. In January 2018, Road Innovation completed a Series A financing of RMB 60 million, led by JD.com. For another example, Qicang Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd.'s nearly 200 million yuan in Series B financing was led by Cainiao Network.
3. Logistics companies increase investment
In the blue ocean of AGV, logistics companies are also an important investment force. For example, Geek +, whose angel round financing of 10 million yuan, was invested by Xinyi Logistics; Cobo Robot's Series A financing of tens of millions of yuan was led by Best Logistics in August 2018; Xiaomi Intelligent's 30 million yuan Strategic financing was mainly invested by Chen Dejun, chairman of Shentong Express.
4. Technological innovation companies are involved in the AGV industry
In addition to investment institutions, e-commerce companies, and logistics companies, some technological innovation companies have also extended their tentacles to the AGV market, hoping to get a share in this field.
For example, Hikvision established Hangzhou Hikvision Robot Technology Co., Ltd. in April 2016 and increased its capital in July. Relying on the parent company's technology accumulation in the field of image processing, hardware design and algorithms, Haikang Robot has independently developed intelligent storage robot systems, and has successively launched intelligent handling robots that can automatically connect to production lines. Acquired Beijing Iris Robot in April, and formally entered the intelligent robot business. The acquisition of Iris Robots by Desperate Technology is the vertical integration of Desperate Industry Chain, and also the in-depth integration of Desperate "AI + IoT".
Financing of some domestic AGV companies since 2015 (incomplete statistics)
Faced with the current enthusiastic AGV market, people cannot help asking: Why is the AGV market highly sought after by capital, and what is the charm? The reporter concluded that this was mainly determined by many factors:
1. AGV's own characteristics and advantages
There are many types of automated logistics equipment, and the reason why capital respects AGV is mainly because the AGV system is more flexible, with a high degree of automation and a high level of intelligence. AGV's driving path can be flexibly changed according to changes in storage space requirements and production process flow; AGV integrates advanced theory and application technology in today's scientific and technological field, making it more advanced.
Compared with stackers, monorail carts, and conveyors, the AGV's active area does not require the installation of fixed devices such as rails and support frames, and is not restricted by the site, roads and spaces. Therefore, in the automated logistics system, AGV can fully reflect its automation and flexibility, and realize efficient, economical and flexible unmanned production.
2. The industry development is still in its infancy, and market development needs capital assistance
At present, although the development of the AGV industry is growing rapidly, it is still in its infancy. The scope of application of AGV is relatively small. Domestic enterprises lack core component technologies, product homogeneity is serious, and price competition is the main means.
For AGV companies to seek greater development, they need to open up more application fields and continuously strengthen the research and development of new products and technologies. All of these require strong capital support.
3. Strong market demand and broad prospects
In fact, the e-commerce and express industries are becoming the main driving force for the rapid growth of the AGV market. In recent years, the volume of express delivery services has become increasingly large. The number of express parcels during the "Double Eleven" period in 2018 reached 1 billion. This has put forward higher requirements on the response speed and accuracy of enterprise logistics systems. Today, Alibaba, JD.com, Amazon, Shentong, SF and other companies with huge demand for express delivery volume are actively pursuing the layout of intelligent logistics and increasing investment in logistics equipment such as AGV.
At the same time, the development of smart logistics has provided a broad market for AGV applications. The logistics industry as a whole is a labor-intensive industry with a low level of automation. Under the background of rising labor costs, the need for logistics companies to reduce costs and increase efficiency is increasingly urgent. As an important technical equipment necessary to promote the development of smart logistics, AGV is ushered in the new development with the help of smart logistics.
In recent years, China's AGV market has developed rapidly, accounting for about one-third of the global market share, and China has become a major AGV manufacturing and use country. According to market research and consulting firm Tractica predicts that by 2021, the global market size of warehousing and logistics robots will reach 22.4 billion US dollars, and the industry's prospects are developing well.
4. Favorable policies promote the growing market of AGV
On the one hand, the favorable policies of the industrial robot industry provide a good policy environment for the development of AGV. In recent years, the state has issued a number of policies on industrial robots, such as "Robot Industry Development Plan (2016-2020)", "Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Development of Industrial Robot Industry", etc. There are also requirements on the number of industrial robots manufactured. The country's guidance for the development of industrial robots is clear, and AGV, as an important subdivision product of industrial robots, will also benefit from the overall technological development of industrial robots.
On the other hand, in recent years, the state has also introduced a number of support and guidance policies for smart logistics, which have been guided at a macro level, and have also promoted the development and application of AGV. For example, the State Council's Several Opinions on Promoting the Development of the Express Delivery Industry, the "Internet +" Efficient Logistics Implementation Opinions, and the "Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for the Development of the Express Delivery Industry" and other policy documents have been issued, all of which have accelerated the promotion and application of logistics enterprises from different perspectives Information technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things have actively adopted advanced technical equipment such as mobile robots to raise new requirements. All these make capital optimistic about the huge market prospects and profit margins of robot products such as AGV.
Among the AGV companies that have received financing so far, undoubtedly those who have core technologies, especially software development, AI algorithm capabilities, and occupy competitive advantages in some industry markets are the most capital-optimistic.
Third, the future development trend of the AGV market
The capital injection has effectively promoted the rapid growth of AGV companies, helped companies increase investment in research and development, and better realize the implementation of projects, which has brought vitality to the development of enterprises. Of course, at the same time that financing brings huge benefits to enterprises, it is inevitable that there are certain disadvantages. For example, in order to produce decent reports to investors, some funded AGV companies will fight the price war and exchange the low price for the market; in the long run, it is not conducive to the healthy development of the industry.
China's AGV sales statistics and growth from 2014 to 2018
Under the capital feast, the majority of AGV companies have to pay attention to a question: What is the future development direction of AGV? Looking at the entire industry, the main trends are as follows:
1. Innovation is the main theme
In the entire AGV market, there are currently several traditional strong AGV companies, including Xinsong, Kunchuan, Harbin Institute of Technology, etc., which firmly control the automotive, tobacco, pharmaceutical and other industries. Jizhijia and Hikvision have established a foothold in e-commerce and express delivery.
If start-up AGV companies want to get a share in the market, how to open up incremental markets and new application areas becomes the key. This requires AGV companies to continuously innovate, understand the operating characteristics and actual needs of different industries, continue to explore new market areas, and further tap into more industries such as 3C electronics and new energy.
At the same time, at present, the homogeneous competition among AGV companies in China is severe, which is not conducive to the healthy development of the industry and enterprises. Under such circumstances, differentiation has become the core competitiveness of enterprises.
If AGV companies want to stand out in the fierce market competition, they need to continuously improve their innovation capabilities and strengthen product innovation, including innovations in navigation technology, scheduling systems, and core components, to achieve technological upgrades, and to promote enterprise products to be more intelligent, stable, Development in a more flexible direction.
2. Robotics is increasingly integrated with the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence
The logistics industry is one of the industries where the Internet of Things technology (IoT) has been implemented for a long time. The development of the Internet of things technology has promoted the transformation of China's smart logistics.
With the introduction of the Internet of Things concept and the improvement of technology, many advanced modern logistics systems have been equipped with advanced technical features such as informatization, digitization, networking, intelligence, and flexibility. The Internet of Things technology will effectively control the development and application of AGV in the logistics industry.
In addition, the application of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence in the manufacturing industry has spawned a variety of new hardware devices, such as collaborative robots, and brought new product market segments to hardware device manufacturing enterprises.
For AGV, during the travel process, machine vision is used to judge important information such as the travel route, material location, and surrounding environment. It can transport materials, semi-finished products and products across processes, production lines, and regions to achieve flexible production processes. Fully reflect its automation and flexibility in the automated logistics system to achieve efficient, economical and flexible unmanned production.
Therefore, the integration of robot technology with the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technology will be an inevitable trend. In the future, high-performance robot equipment will not be pure hardware, but a combination of the three technologies mentioned above. Some industry experts believe that artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and other technologies may usher in an inflection point around 2020-2030. Natural language processing, cognitive reasoning, blockchain and other technologies are expected to overcome the difficulties in current applications (performance bottlenecks, security issues Etc.), 5G and other technologies will also be implemented, which enables people to obtain the help of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technology at a relatively low cost, thereby truly promoting the popularization of intelligent equipment and ushering in the next peak of mobile robot applications.
As the domestic AGV market is in the ascendant, some AGV companies are gradually expanding their business to overseas markets. Such as Xinsong, as early as 2007, its self-developed AGV products have been exported overseas; as for Geek +, the completion of the ACCA project in Japan marks the official entry of Geek + into the Japanese market; in 2017, Ajiwei successfully held hands with electronic products And electrical appliance manufacturer Turkey VESTEL; at the end of 2017, Ali eWTP Super Logistics Hub officially settled in Kuala Lumpur Airport, Malaysia. This is also the first intelligent robotic warehouse in Southeast Asia, using intelligent AGVs produced by fast warehouses. In addition, the dart robot company is making great strides. Overseas markets have entered the United States, Japan, Singapore and other countries.
The domestic AGV companies' entry into the international market is, on the one hand, a new measure for companies to develop the market and seek development, and on the other hand, it also shows the significant improvement in the competitiveness of domestic AGV companies. However, we should also see that while domestic companies are “going global”, it is not all smooth sailing, including the lagging of core component technology, lack of overseas cases and experience, etc., which restricts the domestic AGV companies from moving smoothly into the international market.
In the future, continuously strengthening technology research and development, improving product core competitiveness, and creating more successful cases will become an important basis for domestic AGV companies to expand overseas markets.
In addition, some AGV companies have also introduced service models such as financial leasing and warehousing operations to reduce the threshold for customers' AGV use and accelerate market expansion.