SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Phantom Auto, a provider of remote operation software for logistics vehicles, has raised a strategic investment of $42 million led by ArcBest, a multi-billion dollar freight and logistics service provider, and NFI, one of the largest third-party logistics providers in North America.
ArcBest and NFI have signed commercial agreements to deploy thousands of Phantom-powered forklifts in the coming years. The funding also includes investment from Bessemer Venture Partners, Maniv Mobility, OurCrowd, Perot Jain, Max Blankfeld, and other previous investors.
[Photo above: Remote-enabled autonomous forklifts developed with Phantom Auto for use in ArcBest customer locations, pictured in the ArcBest R&D lab in Fort Smith, AR.]
The global supply chain faces a critical labor shortage that is estimated to cost the US economy $1 trillion by 2030. With thousands of driving jobs unfilled, annual turnover often exceeding 90%, and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem is only getting worse. Phantom is helping its customers solve the labor shortage with human-centered remote operation, enabling people to remotely operate forklifts, trucks, robots, and other vehicles from up to thousands of miles away. By decoupling labor from location, the company increases labor access and retention, safety, productivity, and resilience across the supply chain. With Phantom, supply chain operators can tap into drivers from anywhere — connecting people who want to work with jobs that need to be filled.
The large orders from ArcBest and NFI, along with Phantom’s existing commercial traction in the material handling industry, indicate the fast-growing demand for remote-enabled forklifts among supply chain and logistics operators. To meet this demand and accelerate growth, the company is rapidly growing its team, and is rolling out technology and service capabilities to support scaled forklift operations. As part of their partnership, Phantom and ArcBest will leverage each company’s complementary technologies to go-to-market with multiple integrated solutions, beginning with human operated, remote-enabled autonomous counterbalance forklifts.
In addition to the funding, Michael Newcity, Chief Innovation Officer of ArcBest and President at ArcBest Technologies, will join Phantom’s Board of Directors. “Collaborating with the right technology partners has been key in elevating how we serve our customers and create opportunities for our employees,” said Newcity. “Having worked with Phantom for multiple years, we’ve seen firsthand how their technology unlocks new use cases for remote work and accelerates the deployment of automation. Phantom’s solutions are a game-changer for the entire logistics industry.”
“Phantom is aligned with NFI’s philosophy of ‘people-led, technology-enabled’”, said Sid Brown, CEO of NFI. “Our employees are our most important asset, and without them we would not be able to serve our customers. With the elimination of having to physically be on site, we can attract more diverse candidates that do not live within driving distance of the warehouse, live in alternative time zones, or who may not have been interested in working in a warehouse environment.”
Phantom will use the latest funding to hire more employees, develop new technologies, and execute on key commitments to top-tier customers. While Phantom is accelerating growth in the forklift segment, the company also continues to support and grow in multiple logistics verticals including delivery robots, trucks, and more.
“We have seen an explosion in demand for remote operation across the supply chain as our customers seek innovative solutions to expand access to labor and fuel growth,” said Shai Magzimof, Co-Founder and CEO at Phantom Auto. Elliot Katz, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, added, “Logistics companies need workers to fill important jobs, and workers need those jobs to be accessible and safe; remote operation solves for both aims.”