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Amazon acquires warehouse machinery and robotics maker Cloostermans

A worker sorts packages on the outbound dock at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Eastvale, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Amazon has acquired Cloostermans, a Belgian company that makes the technology used in warehouses, the company announcement Friday. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Amazon began working with Cloostermans in 2019, using its technology to help move and stack pallets and heavy goods, as well as package products together for delivery, the retail giant said.

Cloostermans will be part of Amazon Robotics, the division of Amazon focused on automating aspects of its warehouse operations. The unit was formed after Amazon acquired Kiva Systems, a maker of warehouse robots, for $775 million a decade ago.

Amazon continues to launch new machines in warehouses. In June, the company unveiled a parcel-conveying machine called Proteus, which it called the first fully autonomous mobile robot. It has also deployed other robots that can help sort and move packages.

In a blog post, Ian Simpson, vice president of Global Robotics at Amazon, said the company is investing in robotics and other technologies to make its warehouses safer for employees.

“As we continue to expand and accelerate the robotics and technology we design, engineer and deploy in our operations, we look forward to welcoming Cloostermans to Amazon and are excited to see what we can build together,” said Simpsons.

The prospect of warehouse robotics improving safety has been the subject of debate. A survey of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting found that Amazon warehouses with robots have higher injury rates than facilities without automation.

Founded in 1884, Cloostermans began as a repair shop for textile companies and later built industrial machinery. Following the acquisition, Cloostermans’ team of about 200 employees will join Amazon Robotics, Amazon said.

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