Balyo: forklifts get smarter

Founded ten years ago, Balyo (based in the Paris Region) is now one of the international specialists in an unusual but incredibly useful machine: the robotic industrial forklift truck. Spotlight on a success story.

Fleets of robots navigating, all by themselves, around vast warehouses and handling pallets, without any humans in sight. The scene is something out of science fiction, yet it takes place every day in the warehouses of global industry.  Balyo, a French company, is among those behind the scenes of this futuristic world. Its flagship product: “Driven by Balyo,” an automated industrial forklift truck designed to equip and manage the warehouses of major industrial groups, while boasting a significant advantage, known as “Geoguidance.” This approach allows forklifts to guide themselves without a need for special floor markings or reflectors. “This is the key advantage of our technology over traditional automated forklifts,” explained Baptiste Mauget, Communications Manager at Balyo.“These robots recognize external elements, such as walls, racks and columns. They use them to determine their position, in real time.” 

Embedded technology

The result? Greater flexibility, reduced dependence on human workers and thus increased profitability for the industries concerned. “Industrial groups using our technology get a ROI in just one year,” said Mauget. Balyo’s story began in 2004 when two engineers, Thomas Duval and Raul Bravo, collaborated to design an automated forklift for a major French group. The two founders realized the potential of their project and the Balyo adventure began the following year.

Soon, the company, born in the 14th arrondissement of Paris and now based in Moissy-Cramayel (southeast of Paris), got things rolling by developing its first Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) in a Paris incubator. In 2011, they reached a milestone by achieving video guidance of a forklift, and one year later they had developed the Move Box. “Previously, we had to design our customer’s trucks from A to Z. It was too expensive and demanding. With the Move Box and its embedded technology, we were able to equip existing trucks.”   

Valuable support from the Systematic competitiveness cluster

For Balyo, this launched exponential growth, in particular marked by the signing in 2015 of a contract with Linde Material Handling, Europe’s leader in forklifts and warehouse trucks. The objective: to equip their fleet of trucks with the new Balyo automation technology. “This allowed us to focus on R&D without having to deal with the manufacturing process or maintenance,” said Mauget.

In parallel, the company has managed to expand into the USA, thanks to support from the Systematic Paris-Region competitiveness cluster, which honored Balyo as a “champion” in 2011. And then, during a business trip organized by Systematic, Raul Bravo, one of the two directors, met an American consultant with whom he founded the US subsidiary, Balyo Inc., two years later. Balyo robots are now zooming around on both sides of the Atlantic… and nothing seems able to stop them!

 

Balyo in brief…

 

Founded: 2005
Headquarters: Moissy-Cramayel (southeast of Paris)
Headcount: 60
Sales: €3.2 million in 2014
Sites: France and North America (New York)
150 trucks equipped worldwide

Source : http://succeedinparisregion.com/balyo-forklifts-get-smarter/

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