Amazon acquires warehouse machinery and robotics maker Cloostermans

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A worker sorts out parcels in the outbound dock at Amazon fulfillment center in Eastvale, California on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Amazon has acquired Cloostermans, a Belgian company that makes technology used in warehouses, the company announced Friday. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Amazon began working with Cloostermans in 2019, using its technology to help move and stack heavy palettes and goods, as well as package products together for delivery, the retail giant said.

Cloostermans will become part of Amazon Robotics, Amazon’s division focused on automating aspects of its warehouse operations. The unit was formed after Amazon acquired Kiva Systems, a manufacturer of warehouse robots, for $775 million a decade ago.

Amazon continues to launch new machines in warehouses. In June, the company unveiled a package ferrying machine called Proteus, which it referred to as its first fully autonomous mobile robot. It’s also deployed other robots that can help sort and move packages.

In a blog post, Ian Simpson, vice president of Global Robotics at Amazon, said the company is investing in robotics and other technology to make its warehouses safer for employees.

“As we continue to broaden and accelerate the robotics and technology we design, engineer and deploy across our operations, we look forward to welcoming Cloostermans to Amazon and are excited to see what we can build together,” Simpson said.

The prospect of warehouse robotics improving safety has been a topic of debate. An investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting found Amazon’s warehouses with robots have higher injury rates than facilities without automation.

Founded in 1884, Cloostermans began as a repair shop for textile companies and went on to build industrial machines. As a result of the acquisition, Cloostermans’ team of roughly 200 employees will join Amazon Robotics, Amazon said.

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