Autonomous robotics company’s acquisition to accelerate Rockwell’s end-to-end autonomous production logistics solutions

Companies usually add a descriptive phrase following their name in a press release to describe what business they are in. Rockwell Automation has been “the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation”, and then “the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and software.” Now it is “the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation.” The company has been on quite a journey over the past seven years.

I think there are more sales and profits to be made in these hardware areas than software, but Wall Street analysts like sexy. Software was sexy. Now digital transformation is sexy. But this acquisition will add sales and profits. Just watch. Ash Sharma, senior research director for robotics and warehouse automation at market intelligence firm Interact Analysis, says, “Our research shows that the market for AMRs in manufacturing will grow 30% annually, for the next five years, to hit a market size of $6.2 billion by 2027.”

He goes on to say, and I agree, “Rockwell’s aims for Clearpath, and particularly for OTTO Motors, are more wide-ranging than just warehouses, and they intend to expand deploying on factory floors.”

Here is the marketing part:

Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ontario, Canada-based Clearpath Robotics Inc., a leader in autonomous robotics for industrial applications. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are the next frontier in industrial automation and transformation, and this acquisition will supercharge Rockwell’s lead in bringing the Connected Enterprise to life.

Here is the actual rationale:

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. 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.

And the obligatory CEO statement:

“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. “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.”

Rockwell has acquired other assorted material handling companies and technologies. This shows the company is still firmly on the factory floor making things better for operations.

And a most interesting tidbit at the end of the news:

The acquisition will be funded by a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Rockwell’s investment in PTC. It is subject to customary regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first quarter of Rockwell’s fiscal year 2024. At close, Clearpath will report to Rockwell’s Intelligent Devices operating segment.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as Rockwell’s financial advisor.

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