May 20, 2015

Kiva Systems officially rebrands as Amazon Robotics

Name change reinforces robot maker's role in enabling Amazon's expansion.

By Ben Ames

Warehouse robotics manufacturer Kiva Systems LLC of North Reading, Mass., will soon be called Amazon Robotics, the company has announced, confirming earlier published reports.

Kiva, which manufactures robots that automate fulfillment centers, was acquired for $775 million by e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. of Seattle in 2012 and will continue to supply its technology to the online retailer.

Asked whether the company would continue to sell its robotic solutions to companies aside from Amazon—other users include Diapers.com and Crate and Barrel—Kiva referred all questions to Amazon. The parent company had not replied by press time.

Amazon uses thousands of Kiva's squat, orange-colored robots in its distribution centers. Swarms of the company's rectangular robots navigate a crowded warehouse, lift up shelves full of products, and bring them back to a central location, where employees pick the required items for each order.

Controlled by proprietary software, Kiva's Mobile-robotic Fulfillment System can reduce labor requirements, improve productivity, and increase speed and accuracy for operations such as e-commerce fulfillment and split-case, each, and item-picking applications, the company says.

By automating its warehouses, Amazon can keep up with the tremendous growth rate of e-commerce, and the pressure that puts on logistics operations to meet the company's global fulfillment needs.

The Kiva robots are a key enabling technology as Amazon continues to build new facilities. For example, earlier this month, Amazon unveiled plans to build a one-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Carteret, N.J., and hire hundreds of full-time workers to meet burgeoning customer demand. The company already has a fulfillment center in Robbinsville, N.J., with thousands of additional employees.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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