With the international boom in warehousing and fulfillment centers, ABB sees opportunity in systems to automate logistics operations. The Zurich, Switzerland-based international technical conglomerate said it will acquire Intrion, a privately owned company headquartered in Huizingen, Belgium, near Brussels, with approximately 120 employees and over a decade of experience in logistics automation solutions and services for the warehouse and distribution, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries.
Intrion’s expertise covers a full spectrum of logistics automation solutions including inline checking, product picking, packing, palletizing, conveying, storage, sorting and sequencing, and order picking. The two parties have agreed not to disclose the value of the transaction, which is expected to close in Q3/Q4 2018.
“The acquisition is a milestone for ABB’s entry into the logistics market and will significantly advance our logistics robotics automation offering,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotic and Motion division. “The growth of e-commerce and shift to mass customization means our customers are handling a wider variety of packages with ever-increasing delivery expectations and we are helping to ensure they are well equipped for that shift."
The trend of mass customization in consumer goods is increasing the complexity of logistics tasks, ABB said in a release. E-commerce fulfilment, for example, requires enhanced capabilities to identify, sort and process individual packages of more diverse shapes and sizes from large volumes of containers moving at high speed. Greater demand for tailored deliveries is also increasing complexity in retail logistics, where large chains require their suppliers to deliver pre-arranged palettes customized to each location that can be unloaded directly onto store shelves without sorting.
“Logistics centers that typically handle 10,000 shipments a day can unexpectedly see 100,000 shipments a day,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, managing director of Robotics for ABB. “In the past, adding more people was the only way to rapidly scale capacity. But this is expensive, inefficient and challenging as there are less people willing to do repetitive and often strenuous jobs. Robotics automation solutions add flexibility to offset unexpected peaks while also offering workers the opportunity for more rewarding roles with better ergonomics and increased safety.”