UAE-based warehouse automation major targets Saudi, India expansion

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UAE-based warehouse automation major ACME Intralog is set to embark on a major expansion both within and outside the Middle East region, its top executive has told Arabian Business.

The company will also invest AED30 million over the next two years to beef up its research and development and manufacturing facilities in the UAE.

ACME plans to enter Saudi Arabia sometime next year, while the company is also finalising plans for a foray into India in the early part of 2021.

“We have been actively involved in projects in Saudi Arabia since 2017 and consider it as our biggest market. We intend to set up an office in Saudi Arabia in 2021,” Navin Narayan, founder-CEO, ACME Intralog, told Arabian Business in an exclusive interview.

As for the India entry plans, Narayan said: “Our intention was to set up operations in India by 2020. However, this had to be postponed to the first quarter of 2021 due to the Covid-related lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Navin Narayan, founder and CEO of ACME Intralog

“Market research has shown that there is a potential for over $1 billion in warehouse automation investment in India by 2025 and we are keen to have our foot in the door.”

Narayan also revealed that the company has already received a large number of enquiries from the Indian market for warehouse as well as factory automation.

“The Indian market is positioned to be the second largest e-commerce market, eclipsing the US by 2034, triggering heavy investment in warehouse automation in recent years in that market,” he said.

Narayan pointed out that with global giants such as Amazon and Walmart and the Indian conglomerate Reliance group focusing on the Indian market, coupled with the Indian government’s push for increased investment in logistics infrastructure, there is bound to be a monumental increase in large scale intra-logistics investments in the coming years.

ACME Intralog, which has set up a manufacturing facility within the Jebel Ali Free Zone in 2018, currently manufactures a complete range of conveyor systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, control systems as well other material handling systems.

It also designs and manufactures customized factory automation solutions for different industries in the region, Europe as well as the US.

Narayan said the company was also currently exploring possible sites to set up the new facilities for R&D and manufacturing.

Narayan said that although he preferred internal accruals to finance the proposed expansions, he was also open to the idea of bringing in a strategic investor in the company.

“At the moment, we are light on debt and funding our growth utilising internal resources. With the growing order pipeline, we prefer to focus on internal accruals.

“However, we are always open to having partners onboard who can bring in new technology as well as inject capital to help us maintain the growth levels that we are currently experiencing,” he said.

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Narayan said with the beginning of the pandemic and corresponding growth in e-commerce, there has been considerable focus on industrialisation in the GCC region and that he expected a tremendous potential for both factory as well as warehouse automation.

“Businesses in competitive sectors such as grocery e-commerce are now turning to micro distribution solutions to meet the demands of customers. We have built a wide portfolio of solutions that cater to these needs and are now seeing a substantial number of requests for such solutions,” Narayan said.

Narayan also pointed out that being based in Dubai, ACME understands the nuances and demands of the local industry.

“Solutions that are designed for Europe or highly populated regions in Asia do not necessarily provide the required ROI for regional business and a copy paste approach to solving regional intralogistics solutions does not work,” he said.

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