Fully automated factories might be a ways off, but industrial suppliers are getting ready for them. Mitsubishi Electric Corp. last week announced that it has made a strategic investment in Clearpath Robotics, which develops and sells autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs.
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Electric said its investment in innovative companies will strengthen its support for complete factory optimization and automation.
“Mitsubishi Electric, supported by partners such as Clearpath Robotics, is continuously evolving digital manufacturing through integrated solutions that utilize FA [factory automation] equipment, simulators, and other software using real and digital information,” the company stated in a press release.
“In the future, Mitsubishi Electric will envisage smart factories that integrate manufacturing and logistics to realize mass customized production and full factory automation by maximizing the use of the integrated solutions,” it added.
Mitsubishi Electric said it has more than 100 years of experience in the manufacturing, marketing, and sales of electrical and electronic equipment. Its systems are used in information processing and communications, space development and satellite communications, consumer electronics, industrial technology, energy, transportation, and building equipment.
The company recorded a revenue of 5,003.6 billion yen ($37.3 billion U.S.) in the fiscal year ended March 31.
Mitsubishi Electric expects an automated future
The manufacturing and logistics industries are increasingly using mobile robots in response to labor shortages, noted Mitsubishi Electric. Not only can AMRs convey materials, but they can also provide valuable data through their connections with factory and line simulation software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and manufacturing execution systems (MES), said the company.
Mitsubishi Electric did not specify the amount of its funding in Clearpath Robotics, which sells software for mobile robots and owns AMR provider OTTO Motors.
Founded in 2009, Clearpath claimed that it is a global leader in the development of mobile robots. Through its OTTO Motors unit, the Kitchener, Ontario-based company said it provides AMRs and related software for materials handling in manufacturing facilities and warehouses.
With more than 4 million hours of production driving experience, OTTO said it is trusted for mission-critical deliveries in the most demanding industrial environments. It said 70% of its customers are Fortune 500 companies, including GE and Toyota.
OTTO Motors cited recent awards, including Fast Company’s 2023 Most Innovative Companies, Business Insider Top 40 under 40 and The Vector AI20 Top AI Companies to Watch in 2023. Clearpath Robotics had 335 employees as of January 2023, according to Mitsubishi.
Collaboration with OTTO Motors to continue
Mitsubishi Electric and OTTO Motors said the latest investment expands their strategic relationship and strengthens their commercial collaboration.
“The relationship between Mitsubishi Electric and OTTO Motors is built upon years of respect and trust,” said Satoshi Takeda, chief strategy officer at Mitsubishi. “OTTO Motors is well-positioned to become a leader in industrial autonomy. We see a bright future ahead for OTTO Motors and are honored to support their continued success.”
Matt Rendall, co-founder and CEO of OTTO Motors, added: “Industrial automation is continuing to transform businesses around the world. As a globally-trusted leader with a strong mission to invest in continuous technological innovation and ceaseless creativity, Mitsubishi Electric has been an important partner for OTTO Motors.”
“We are proud to have their continued support and share a vision to accelerate industrial automation globally,” he said. “We look forward to pursuing the tremendous opportunity ahead.”
Mitsubishi Electric Automation will exhibit at Booth 4018 at Automate 2023, which runs from May 22 to 25 in Detroit. Mitsubishi Electric US will be at Booth 5607. OTTO Motors plans to exhibit its AMRs at Booth 4832.
Editor's note: For more about Automate 2023, visit Robotics 24/7's special coverage page.
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