Warehouse robotics firms merge

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Locus Robotics has acquired Waypoint Robotics.

Locus provides goods-to-person robotics systems for fulfillment warehouses. Waypoint specializes in manufacturing omni-directional industrial mobile robots for automated material transport.

According to Interact Analysis, Locus, which recently raised an additional $50M, is now one of the most valuable mobile robot companies in the world.

Locus says the acquisition will broaden its product line to applications requiring larger, heavier payloads and fulfillment needs. Waypoint’s Vector and MAV3K are industrial, flexible mobile robot platforms that can be fitted with a variety of modules and attachments. They are interoperable with other robots, and can easily communicate with machines and IoT devices throughout a facility.

Moving pallets

Although Waypoint is not a major vendor of AMRs (in terms of volume), it does have some unique and interesting technology in this crowded market,” said Ash Sharma, senior research director at Interact Analysis. “Its omni-directional robots provide some clear advantages for moving pallets around busy warehouses.”

Sharma said the move illustrates Locus’s desire to expand beyond order picking to other aspects of the warehouse and solve additional problems for customers. “Developing its own products and technology would have been time consuming and costly and this acquisition could prove very smart indeed,” he noted.

“There is likely to be considerable synergy across the two companies’ combined customer base, although not a huge contribution to Locus’ top-line revenues from day one.”

DHL buys in

DHL recently signed a 2,000 robot deal with Locus as part of its efforts to digitize its supply chain processes.

“DHL Supply Chain and Locus Robotics have established a productive partnership based on a highly successful integration of the Locus autonomous mobile robot solution into our customers’ operations, and we value the emphasis they have placed on listening to our needs,” said Sally Miller, CIO, DHL Supply Chain North America.

“This acquisition, which adds a larger, heavier-weight autonomous robot capability to their portfolio, is a good reflection of how they continue to address the customer requirements at the heart of their strategy.”

“Warehouses and fulfillment centres benefit by harnessing the strengths of humans and robots working in collaboration. These co-botic environments are further optimized when a range of differently ‘skilled’ AMRs are employed. With the acquisition of Waypoint Robotics, Locus Robotics is able to bring more capability to the fulfillment floor,” said Jordan K. Speer, research manager, global supply chains, IDC Retail Insights.

“Furthermore, introducing combinations of differently ‘skilled’ AMRs that are interoperable with each other enables new functional capabilities where robots hand off product to each other. Without intelligent automation that can handle a wide variety of tasks on the fulfillment floor — including returns, putaway, and sortation – organizations will not be able to thrive in today’s market.”