Blue Ocean Automation (蓝海自动化), a startup focusing on automated guided vehicle (AGV) and industrial automation technologies, has bagged tens of million of yuan from a Series B round of funding, Chinese tech media outlet 36kr reported yesterday.
The round was led by the corporate venture capital arm of Zhejiang Provincial Energy Group, with participation from Shenzhen Credit Guarantee Group. The proceeds will be used to spur technological R&D and business expansion.
Founded in 2016, Shenzhen-headquartered Blue Ocean Automation chiefly supplies automation solutions to smart factories, especially those in photovoltaic and lithium battery industries. The company received funds from Hymson (海目星), a PV panel and lithium battery producer, and GL Ventures previously.
According to Xu Wenbin, founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Automation, the size of China’s PV market is expected to grow by 40 to 50 billion yuan (US$7 billion) each year, while that of lithium battery is forecast to expand by the same amount from 2022 to 2025.
The startup has bet big on the development of PV, lithium battery and other new energy sectors after it ventured into AGV manufacturing in 2017.
Compare to when the company closed its previous funding round, Blue Ocean Automation has extended its product line to comprise AMR, smart warehouse storage, and manufacturing execution system (MES). This year it has rolled out mobile shelf and cleaning robot products, so as to provide more comprehensive solutions to clients.
The company is also in the process of developing the next-generation AMR based on 3D laser-guided navigation, which is expected to be deployed in 2024.
As one of the company’s areas of strength, its MES is able to visualize the whole manufacturing process, showing how PV cells are stored and manufactured, as well as reflect the status of order fulfillment and issue warnings when needed.
“Our MES product began to be deployed in 2021, and has become quite mature by now. We know more about manufacturing processes than other firms making MES,” said Xu, the founder. “And we have more opportunities to get access to the PV industry, to help us better understand and meet customer needs for MES.”
To date, Blue Ocean Automation has served core PV industry players including JinkoSolar, JA Solar and CR Group. In lithium battery making, the investment from Hymson helped its AMRs achieve mass adoption.
In 2022 alone, the AMR devices supplied by Blue Ocean Automation helped complete 83.5GW of PV panel installations, representing more than 30% of the market total, at 260GW.