Material handling specialist Vanderlande has obtained a minority stake in Dutch robotics company Smart Robotics, with the aim of researching and developing robotic applications for logistics services.
Founded in 2015 as a spin-off from Eindhoven University of Technology, Smart Robotics develops, sells and rents modular collaborative robots (or ‘cobots’) that can be configured for specific tasks. Its solutions are utilized for a variety of processes such as order picking and placing, (de)palletizing and kitting and bagging. The company’s software platform is central to its solutions and enables the integration of cutting-edge technology, such as vision sensors, artificial intelligence and grippers.
For two-and-a-half years, Smart Robotics has received support and venture capital from the Brabant Development Agency (BOM), a government initiative funded by the Dutch State and the Province of Brabant.
Mark Menting, managing director, Smart Robotics, said, “BOM’s vision on robotics is strongly aligned with ours, and the collaboration was a perfect strategic fit in the startup phase. BOM helped us to develop and become the successful and profitable organization we are today.
“Now, Vanderlande has taken up the baton to help scale up Smart Robotics internationally. They have the product-market combination that we need to reach our new goals. Our financial relationship with BOM might end here but we will definitely keep working together to create awareness, strengthen the already well-developed robotics ecosystem in Brabant, and build a promising innovative future for robotics.”
In a rapidly changing logistics market, having direct access to new robotic development and integration capabilities will continue to be important for system integrators, particularly in warehousing and the parcel segments. The partnership between Vanderlande and Smart Robotics will see the creation of a mutually beneficial roadmap through a joint R&D program. A key development area will be item picking capabilities so as to further strengthen e-commerce warehousing solutions.
Fred Verstraaten, technology manager, Vanderlande, said, “We’re delighted that we have the opportunity to work more closely with such a dynamic and innovative organization. This is a highly attractive growth market to be involved in at the current time and we see a strong strategic and cultural fit between our companies.
“However, for both parties, it will remain business as usual. The investment will accelerate developments and sharpen our focus in this progressive field.”
November 21, 2017