Logistics automation company lands PSA financial backing

Logistics automation company lands PSA financial backing

RPA Labs co-founder Matt Motsick built the widely used freight rate management software provider Catapult before selling it in 2015. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

PSA International’s unoXed venture arm is among a group of investors that has put seed funding into RPA Labs, a startup aiming to equip logistics companies with pre-built bots for a range of customer-facing and back office functions, RPA said Thursday.

The amount of the round was not disclosed. RPA Labs, co-founded by industry veteran Matt Motsick, has focused on automating processes in three areas of the logistics industry — conversations, documents, and operations.

The company has built a catalog of 25 pre-built “bots” to automate functions such as customer response, load creation in a transportation management system (TMS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and shipment quotation, among others.

Other investors in the seed round include Singapore-based Global eTrade Services (GeTS), an arm of the port and global trade management software developer CrimsonLogic, and the venture capital groups Supply Chain Ventures and Schematic Ventures, the latter of which led the round.

GeTS built Callista, a wide-ranging software platform covering freight and trade regulatory components, for PSA International, the global terminal operator based in Singapore. PSA unboXed’s other venture investments include visibility software provider ClearMetal, and Haulio, a software platform for drayage operators in Singapore.

Motsick, who formed freight rate management software provider Catapult International in the early 2000s and later sold it, said in a statement that the bots developed by RPA Labs are designed specifically for logistics companies and intended to help them “bypass the time needed to train general machine learning or adapt RPA platforms to highly complex supply chain operations.” 

Growing interest in automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a growing area of investment in logistics, as companies seek to curtail the amount of money and time employees spend on rote tasks that add little value from a strategic or customer-serving perspective.

“Companies are finding that automation can help scale their business,” RPA Labs chief technology officer and co-founder Suraj Menon said in the statement. “Our technology allows shippers, freight forwarders, brokers, and carriers to choose what bottlenecks or pain points that take up a lot of time and provide a long-term solution to reduce their cost per shipment expenses and increase customer response rates.”

The investment into RPA Labs adds to recent venture capital funding of RPA-based businesses such as Slync and Shipamax. Those companies snagged more than $18 million in collective funding during their respective Series A rounds in the first quarter of 2020.

Uptake of automation technologies is likely to increase in an environment where employees work remotely, staff levels are frozen or cut, and speed of information across systems becomes more important, software executives have told JOC.com. 

“General RPA has failed to automate complex supply chain workflows,” Julian Counihan, partner at Schematic Ventures, said in the statement, adding that RPA Labs’ approach comes “in a form that makes sense for practitioners and works out of the box.”

Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.