This summer we learned about one of Amazon’s latest advances in the field of its robots for logistics and storage. It was called Proteus, and it is an autonomous robot theoretically capable of integrating into spaces with humans without risk – in practice it seems that the risks do exist – and being able to move packages from one place to another without problems. Now those efforts are going further with the latest acquisition of Jeff Bezos’s company.
From the textile industry to robots. In 1884 the small town of Hamme, in East Flanders (Belgium) was known for its textile industry. An entrepreneur named Désiré Huwaert founded a company to boost this segment. For six generations the company, called Cloostermans, evolved and changed focus: they are currently dedicated to making machinery and robots for storage buildings. And logically there is a company that is very interested in this type of development.
Amazon goes shopping. Bezos’s company has been investing significantly in its automation systems for large storage buildings for a decade. The purchase of Kiva Systems in 2012 for 775 million dollars led to the creation of the Global Robotics division, which has now been reinforced by the purchase of Cloostermans-Huwaert.
Investment in automation. As indicated on CNBC, Amazon began working with this Belgian firm in 2019 by using its technology to move and stack pallets and merchandise. It has now acquired this company for an unspecified sum, and its nearly 200 employees will join the Amazon team in Europe.
More robots, but not necessarily fewer people. At Amazon, they have already deployed more than 520,000 robotic units worldwide and at the same time have created a million new jobs. According to its official announcement, automation has not eliminated human jobs but “has led to new positions in our facilities, including examples such as robotics and mechatronics maintenance technicians or flow control specialists.”