Startup of the month: ex9

In this month's interview we asked Ksenia Duarte 10 questions about her company ex9. Based out of France, ex9 is a service provider for unmanned, eco-friendly terminal transportation tasks.

Prequel Insights

Company Name: EX9

No. of Employees: 7

Headquarter: Paris

Funding (How much money was invested into EX9 to date): ~300k€

Operating Markets (Countries in which you do business): Europe 

Founders: Ksenia DUARTE, Enzo SALVATORE


Reference Customers: NC

E-Mail Contact:

Give us a brief company description of EX9.

EX9 is a French tech startup and service provider for unmanned eco-friendly terminal transportation for drop & hook shunting and linkage operations in the logistics and industrial supply chain sectors. We offer supply chain operators (warehouses, distribution hubs, ports/multimodal fret, manufacturing plants) a complete solution of unmanned eco-friendly transport services to move heavy loads as trailers, containers, pallets in close compounds with cabinless, electric, cost-effective tow-robots & on-site process integration to gain in performance and sustainability in the global supply chain.

Tell us a bit about the founding story of EX9. When and how was ex9 born?

Working together on many Autonomous Mobility concepts for Public Transport since 2015, the founders understood that the business viability and RoI for automation on open roads will be long to reach. Still, the technology offers a relevant purpose to industrial cases where jobs are harsh and shortage is growing significantly. We launched EX9 in early 2021 with a belief that the automation of Transport in industrial applications will save time, money, lifes and the planet. Thus we discovered Logistics use cases and thanks to many interviews and work with end users (logistic operators), we built a solution responding to their expectations and needs.

Who are the people behind EX9? Tell us about the founders and initiators of ex9 and what motivates them.

EX9 is a French Tech Startup, co-founded and led by a mixed complementary team that works together since 2015. Ksenia, a female CEO with >20 years of experience in technological innovation, mobility and entrepreneurship, focused on a win-win B2B business approach. Enzo, a male CTO highly experienced in mechatronics, robotics and autonomous mobility in various fields (Logistics, Construction, Defence, Transport).

Which problem does ex9 solve for its customers and what’s their biggest pain point?

Supply chain operators worldwide face congestion at offsite sites and parking lots, causing significant delays (waiting times of 1-2 hours per truck driver if the trailer is not not ready in time to be picked up, preloaded and moved to the next destination or to a multimodal node). This situation is due to the increase in the volumes of goods to be managed per site (thanks to the e-commerce progress), the enormous shortage of labor (450,000 drivers are missing in Europe and absenteeism is increasing, partially due to pandemics), accidents and the lack of digitalization.

The need to significantly reduce the negative impact of diesel industrial vehicles (as terminal tractors) operating primarily 24/7 is also an important need. Please keep in mind that a logistics warehouse using 10 diesel construction tractors emits no less than 50 tonnes of CO2 per year.

What is the core competence/USP/key differentiator of ex9? 

In-house-developed automation technologies, based on AI and computer vision, are specifically developed and trained for a dense, dynamic logistics environment, with maneuvers with front and rear movements alone and with the trailer coupled.

Thanks to our experienced and qualified team we tailor our offer for efficient and fast on-site deployment. Thus, our focus is not only automating a single robot model, but to fully automate the outdoor transport process with all the annex aspects such as hands-free charging & coupling, connectivity and swarm fleet management integrated into the customer IT system as YMS, control tower for monitoring & tele-driving (if required), etc.

What is the technological status quo of the product? What’s on the roadmap for the coming year?

A PoC version of our Transport-as-a-Service concept was recently tested by DHL Supply Chain in France. Within 2 weeks we enjoyed a warm welcome and operational support from the customer team. Both teams (DHL and EX9, together with ANT Machines from Germany) worked in close collaboration making this first pilot case a success. There are still some adaptations to be done on the robot, in service delivery making it all more industrial. On our roadmap is to setup a 2-month fully operational service-oriented project and in parallel make at least 2 more different pilot cases to be ready for a service deployment early 2025. 

Are there any recent success stories you can share? Pilot projects, technical tests?

Together with DHL Supply Chain France, we realized our 1st pilot project in real conditions at Mitry Mory close to Airport Charles de Gaulle in the Paris region last September (2 weeks duration) and already on the path to the next steps. Here are some videos: Example 1, Example 2

Today EX9 also offers some support to DHL to build together a more optimized, digitalized and efficient process integrating this new mode of transport. We are happy and proud to build this future together with such a worldwide leading company of the global supply chain.

What does an implementation process look like for your customers? How long does it take to bring an ex9-setup live? 

Offering our unmanned transport solutions as a service, the full implementation process includes several steps as Use case definition(expectations, KPI, etc.) and modeling of the site operations (number of movements/day to estimate the quantity of robots potentially needed), mapping of the site and installation of a control tower integrated into the IT system deployed on site (i.e. YMS - Yard Management System). Safety plan and training of the customer team is also part of the offer. All this done even before any robot delivered to site starting operations. 

In your experience, what are the greatest challenges to overcome when convincing customers of ex9?

Today the clients will be convinced when they can calculate the RoI of the benefits brought by this new mode and after having tested our automated transport solutions in real conditions. The challenge is not only to make the robots do the job of moving trailers or containers from point A to Z but to anticipate at all steps of the current operational process how the unmanned technologies will handle the tasks in a relevant and efficient way. 

How do you see the future of ex9? What’s there to come in the next few years? Where are you headed? 

Bright, as a unicorn enabler of transport automation in logistics, we are targeting the leading position providing a complete offer of unmanned terminal transport, offering best solutions to our customers, helping them to optimize their jobs, reduce work hardship, on-site risks of accident and GHG emissions, while increasing productivity and efficiency by making operational activities fluid and digitized.

What else would you like to tell our readers?

Nowadays, the company enjoys a lot of traction from many worldwide industrial and logistics key players (DHL, Walmart, DFDS, ID Logistics, Unilever, many ports too), in-field experts and media. EX9 is selected by French Government as 1 of 16 startup’s delegation going to CES 2024 in Las Vegas to present our solutions. That is highly promising and convincing as a part of our current fundraising operation.

Written by
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Sustainability and Compliance
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Supply Chain Visibility
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Supply Chain Finance
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Supplier Management
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Last Mile Delivery
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Freight & Shipping
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Fleet Management
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