Technology

Amazon acquires machinery maker Cloostermans to expand its robotics division

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Amazon.com Inc. today announced that it is acquiring D. Cloostermans–Huwaert NV, a Belgium-based machinery supplier.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1884, Cloostermans provides mechanical and electrical engineering services to help organizations design custom machinery. Cloostermans also manufactures machinery. The company operates a 17,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that includes specialized production equipment such as 3D printers.

Amazon has been working with Cloostermans since 2019 to support its supply chain operations. The companies’ partnership focuses on helping Amazon move merchandise within its e-commerce warehouses and package products together before delivering them to customers. The online retail and cloud computing giant performs such tasks with the help of internally-developed warehouse robots. 

Cloostermans’ approximately 200 employees will join Amazon’s robotics division following the acquisition. Amazon plans to draw on Cloostermans’ expertise in machinery and robotics to streamline its supply chain operations. Amazon is seeking to more rapidly deploy technologies that can help employees with their work, improve warehouse safety and reduce packaging waste. 

“Amazon’s investments in robotics and technology are supporting how we build a better and safer workplace for our employees and deliver for our customers,” said Ian Simpson, the vice president of global robotics at Amazon.

Amazon develops custom robots for its fulfillment centers to process e-commerce orders more efficiently. In June, the company debuted a new internally-developed robot called Proteus that can pick up a cart containing multiple packages and move it from one section of a warehouse to another. According to Amazon, Proteus uses artificial intelligence software to navigate and can charge itself automatically.

The purchase of Cloostermans is the latest in a series of acquisitions that Amazon has made over the past decade to enhance its warehouse automation capabilities. In 2012, the company acquired warehouse robot maker Kiva Systems Inc. for $775 million. More recently, Amazon in 2019 purchased Canvas Technology Inc., a venture-backed developer of delivery robots.

Amazon disclosed today that it has deployed more than 520,000 robotic drive units in its facilities since 2012. A drive unit is a compact autonomous vehicle designed to move merchandise between different sections of a warehouse. Amazon also operates other types of autonomous systems in its facilities, including an internally-developed robotic arm that it detailed earlier this year.

Amazon has a presence in the home robot market as well. It offers a residential robot called Amazon Astro that can move small items between rooms and perform a number of other tasks. To grow its market presence, Amazon last month inked a deal to acquire robot vacuum maker iRobot Corp. for $1.7 billion.  

Photo: Amazon

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