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Hitachi enters robotic SI business in North America

Japanese giant Hitachi entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a robotics business operated by American firm JR Automation Technologies. The acquisition price for JR Automation is US$ 1.42 billion, Hitachi said.

JR Automation builds production lines and logistics systems using industrial robots. As a result of this acquisition, Hitachi will enter the robotic system integrator (SI) business in North America.

The acquisition is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2019, subject to regulatory and other closing conditions, the Japanese company said.

Hitachi said it will continue to accelerate the global rollout of the robotic SI business, together with the acquisition of Japanese robotic SI company KEC Corporation; Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems completed an acquisition contract for KEC in March 2019.

In 2017, Hitachi acquired American air compressor company Sullair, marking a full-scale entry into the North American industrial product business. With the acquisition of JR Automation, Hitachi will get its JR Automation’s customer base in the OT domain, along with advanced robotic SI technologies, know-how, and resources. Additionally, the acquisition of JR Automation will allow Hitachi to further expand its Lumada Solution business globally. Lumada is Hitachi’s advanced digital solutions, services, and technologies business.

Specifically, “4M data” — data related to Man, Machine, Material and Method in the industrial workplace — obtained by the robotic SI business will allow for Lumada Solutions to expand across multiple fields, including visualization, manufacturing optimization, logistics, and maintenance, the Japanese firm said.

Since its establishment in 1980, JR Automation has been involved in the robotic SI business, building production lines that incorporate industrial robots, predominantly in North America but increasingly around the world. JR Automation has a customer base across a wide range of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, e-commerce, and medical device industries.

JR Automation will also use Hitachi’s R&D technology and resources, aiming to add value to its robotic SI business by utilizing data.

“Securing JR Automation’s robotic SI business in North America is an important milestone for us,” said Masakazu Aoki, executive vice president at Hitachi. “By providing customers with new value that combines Hitachi’s products, OT, IT, and advanced digital technologies, we will accelerate the global rollout of our social innovation business.”

“With our combined capabilities, Hitachi and JR Automation will be a uniquely qualified global leader in next generation smart manufacturing, and this partnership will enable us to continue to drive tangible value creation for our customers through innovative custom solutions,” said Bryan Jones, CEO, JR Automation.

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