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Automated warehouses from SoftBank and Symbotic

Amazon vs. the world: retail. That’s always been true and always will. Many factors have made the company seem unstoppable. Amazon’s smart purchase and construction of global fulfillment centers is one. Last count, it operated 305 in the U.S., each 800,000 square feet.

Local warehouses help the company set the standard for same- and next-day delivery. If your company can’t match it, you’re in trouble. WaaS and 3PL services allow companies to compete without owning and operating warehouses. Few companies have Amazon’s resources.

GreenBox Systems LLC, a joint venture between SoftBank Group and Symbotic, provides WaaS to companies that want to expand into warehouses but can’t afford them. Nimble announced plans for outsourced automated warehouses in March.

SoftBank notes:

GreenBox will order Symbotic’s systems over a six-year period commencing in fiscal year 2024, to be implemented across its warehouse network in larger-scale deployments than Symbotic’s current installed base systems. Symbotic expects in excess of $500 million in annual recurring software, parts and services revenue from GreenBox once all systems are operational. Symbotic systems typically become fully operational within 24 months of project design approval.

Symbotic robots will cost $7.5 billion over the contract.

“GreenBox taps into the powerful potential of A.I. and other enabling technologies in supply chains, while also making the benefits of automation accessible to more businesses through a ‘as-a-service’ offering,” SoftBank’s Vikas J. Parekh said in a release. “In partnership with Symbotic, GreenBox will equip customers with more intelligent, streamlined, and scalable warehousing solutions without major capital expenditures.”

Symbotic owns 35%, SoftBank 65%. SoftBank also bought 17.8 million Symbotic shares. The Massachusetts-based warehouse robotics company has signed some high-profile deals despite being a minor player. Walmart announced Symbotic system deployment in its U.S. centers in May.

The company automates warehouses with Kiva-like autonomous mobile robots and arms that pick, place, and depalletize. SoftBank assisted its June 2022 SPAC IPO.

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