Rockwell Automation to acquire Clearpath Robotics

Rockwell Automation has 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.

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.

Combined with Rockwell’s strong continuing partnerships in fixed robotic arms, solutions such as Independent Cart Technology, and traditional leadership in programmable logic controllers (PLCs), the addition of OTTO Motors’ AMR capabilities will create a complete portfolio of advanced material handling solutions unmatched in the industry.

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.

“Rockwell and Clearpath together will simplify the difficult and labour-intensive task of moving materials and product through an orchestrated and safe system to optimise 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, optimising planning, operations, and the workforce.”

Data from Rockwell’s offerings and OTTO Motors’ AMRs will be harnessed in artificial intelligence-powered Software as a Service information management applications, such as those by Rockwell’s Plex and Fiix businesses. With this, Rockwell will deliver a unified solution for manufacturing, enabling autonomous execution and optimisation to increase efficiency and allow for traceability and real-time adjustments. The combined technology will also amplify Kalypso’s production logistics consulting practice.

“Industrial customers are under ever-increasing pressure to do more with less. Autonomous production logistics is becoming a necessity to meet targets and stay competitive. We are excited to join Rockwell and help expand their leadership position in advanced material handling,” said Matt Rendall, co-founder and CEO of Clearpath. “Together, we will create safer and more productive workplaces with autonomous technology.”

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

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.

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