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Rockwell Adds Material Handling Robots to its Range of Industrial Automation Solutions

Sept. 7, 2023
Clearpath brings Rockwell an army of robots for factory applications.

Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee, WI, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ontario, Canada-based Clearpath Robotics, a leader in autonomous robotics for industrial applications.

The release said Rockwell believes autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are the next frontier in industrial automation and transformation, and that this acquisition will help Rockwell bring its Connected Enterprise strategy to life. “Rockwell and Clearpath together will simplify the difficult and labor-intensive task of moving materials and product through an orchestrated and safe system to optimize operations throughout the entire manufacturing facility,” said Blake Moret, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation in the press release. “The combination of autonomous robots and PLC-based line control has long been a dream of plant managers in industries as diverse as automotive and consumer packaged goods. With Clearpath, Rockwell is uniquely positioned to make that dream a reality across virtually all discrete and hybrid verticals, optimizing planning, operations and the workforce.”

The press release also said transporting parts and materials to assembly lines and between manufacturing cells is one of the industry’s most complex and inefficient tasks, often resulting in production bottlenecks. “Autonomous production logistics will transform the workflow throughout a manufacturing plant, enabling substantial reductions in cost and greater operational efficiency,” said the release. “Clearpath’s OTTO Motors Division offers AMRs and fleet management and navigation software, which dramatically increase throughput and reduce costs by ensuring components and subassemblies are in place when needed and by transporting finished goods to a truck or warehouse upon completion.”

Rockwell Automation said in the press release that combined with its continuing partnerships in fixed robotic arms, solutions such as Independent Cart Technology, and long-time focus on programmable logic controllers (PLCs), the addition of OTTO Motors’ AMR capabilities will strengthen its portfolio of advanced material handling equipment.

According to Interact Analysis, the market for AMRs in manufacturing is expected to grow about +30% per year over the next five years, with an estimated market size of $6.2 billion by 2027. This acquisition is expected to contribute a percentage point to Rockwell’s fiscal 2024 revenue growth.

Founded in 2009, Clearpath got its start offering robotics technology to global research and development markets, and in 2015, launched its OTTO Motors Division.