Amazon Buys Warehouse Robotics Company Cloostermans

An engineer checks robots at an Inc. fulfillment center in Tilbury, U.K.

Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg News

Amazon. com Inc. said Friday it has acquired a Belgian company that designs technology to manage the flow of robots through warehouses, the e-commerce giant’s latest investment in tools to automate its logistics network.

The company will add D. Cloostermans–Huwaert NV to the Amazon Robotics division it launched in 2012 with the acquisition of Kiva Systems Inc.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cloostermans, which has about 200 employees, was founded in 1884 as a manufacturer of machinery for textiles manufacturers. It has been refashioned as a specialist in engineering and automation. The company designs and makes warehouse technology Amazon said it already uses to move and stack heavy pallets and totes and to package products for delivery.

Amazon said it has been working with Cloostermans since 2019 and that it plans to use the company’s technology to help robots operate alongside its warehouse employees, including to improve worker safety and to 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,” Ian Simpson, vice president of global robotics at Amazon, said in a company blog post.

Amazon said it has deployed more than 520,000 robots in its warehouses since the Kiva acquisition. The company said it recently added its first fully autonomous mobile robot, which can maneuver around employees and does not need to be restricted to certain areas of a warehouse.

The acquisition comes as Amazon is pausing its aggressive expansion of its U.S. logistics network. The company effectively doubled the size of its delivery operations over about two years as pandemic-driven demand fueled a boom in e-commerce orders.

Online demand has more recently receded as shoppers have returned to stores and inflation has dented retail sales.

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Appeared in the September 10, 2022, print edition as ‘E-Commerce Giant Buys Robotics Firm.’