Amazon has made a string of startup acquisitions over the years to build out its robotics business; now, the e-commerce leviathan is taking an interesting turn in that strategy. Cloostermans is a company out of Belgium that is specialized in mechatronics. It has been building technology to move and stack heavy totes. Amazon has been using those products as a customer of Cloostermans' since the beginning of the year, and is making the acquisition to ramp up its R&D and deployment.
The CEO of Cloostermans said in a statement that they were excited to be joining the Amazon family. "Amazon has raised the bar for how supply chain technologies can benefit employees and customers, and we're looking forward to being part of the next chapter of this innovation."
The bigger picture for Amazon is that it will be doing a lot more in warehouse robotics in the years ahead to meet the demands of its ever expanding e-commere operation.
According to a report leaked earlier this year, Amazon is facing a major shortage of workers in its warehouses because it is running out of people to hire. Further automation could be a way to offset the crisis. The acquisition of Cloostermans would fit into that strategy.
Cloostermans was founded in 1884 and has been privately held for the last six generations.
Some 200 people from Cloostermans will join Amazon as a result of the deal.
In Europe in the last few years, Amazon has opened an innovation lab in Italy, as well as an R&D facility in Germany, and as you can see from its job board, it's hiring a lot in that area. After the deal is done, Amazon will continue to operate out of Cloostermans facilities in a town called Hamme.
It looks like Cloostermans didn't have any outside investments. I don't think you can use the term "boot strapped" to describe a family-owned company as old as this one. As Amazon ramps up its engagement with the business, Cloistermans' other clients may not get renewed, since Amazon has been one of the company's biggest customers.
Over the years, there have been acquisitions, internal development and partnerships with third parties that have built up Amazon's robotics ecosystems, which includes both what it's doing for its industrial warehouse operations, as well as products that are more directly connected to consumers and customer experience.
The consumer branch includes the acquisition of iRobot for over $1 billion and the pick up of Dispatch to build Scout. The $775 million acquisition of Kiva in 2012 is one of the key acquisitions the company has made to build out its industrial business.
520,000 robotic drive units have been distributed across warehouses around the world as a result of the Kiva deal. Proteus is an autonomously mobile warehouse robot that was unveiled earlier this year. According to Amazon, it has hired 1 million people.
There is an extensive network of third-party partnerships. Cloostermans built machines that could automate packing orders and move boxes from one place to another. Amazon wants to take it in-house because it wants to expand its capacity to design and build those kinds of machines and use them in its warehouses. I don't know if that will be for non-perishable items, or for electronics, or for delicate products such as food. The idea could be developed for all of those and even for scenarios where items might be packed up for customers.
The PNM file has been converted into a new one.
Ian Simpson, vice president of Global Robotics at Amazon, said in a statement that Amazon's investments in robotics and technology are supporting how they build a better and safer workplace for their employees. We are looking forward to welcoming Cloostermans to Amazon and are excited to see what we can build together.