October 21, 2019

Teradyne acquires autonomous forklift vendor AutoGuide for $165 million

Move marks consolidation in AMR sector as Teradyne adds to its portfolio of Universal Robots and Mobile Industrial Robots.

By Ben Ames

Industrial automation equipment vendor Teradyne Inc. is adding to its stable of warehouse robots, saying today that it will acquire autonomous forklift vendor AutoGuide Mobile Robots for $165 million, enlarging its share of the small but fast-growing autonomous mobile robot (AMR) sector.

The deal includes $58 million in cash, plus $107 million if certain performance targets are met extending potentially through 2022. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval.

North Reading, Massachusetts-based Teradyne already owns Mobile Industrial Robots ApS (MiR), which makes warehouse automation robots that autonomously transport goods around a DC. Teradyne also owns the Danish robotic arm manufacturer Universal Robots (UR), which itself hired more than 20 former employees of the failed collaborative robot (cobot) maker Rethink Robotics, creator of the charismatic "Baxter" and "Sawyer" cobot models.

By adding Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based AutoGuide to that growing stable, Teradyne says it will complement MiR's range of low- and mid-payload carrying vehicles—which can tote up to 2,200 pounds—with AutoGuide AMRs designed for high-payload jobs moving nearly 10,000 pounds.

The combined power of these companies enables Teradyne to offer customers a broader range of high-performance material handling and transportation solutions, the firm said.

"The high-payload AMR market is an emerging, fast-growing segment of the global forklift market," Mark Jagiela, president and CEO of Teradyne, said in a release. "AutoGuide's modular architecture and innovative technologies provide safe, easy-to-deploy products that naturally complement our MiR low- to mid-payload AMRs, extending Teradyne's reach in this attractive market."

According to Teradyne, the acquisition was a response to growing market demand for easy-to-deploy autonomous mobile robots. "AutoGuide, like Universal Robots and MiR, is using emerging smart, cost-effective technologies in industrial robotics to improve workflows and reduce operating costs in a broad spectrum of industries," Jagiela said.

AutoGuide provides AMRs for the manufacturing, warehouse, and logistics markets, including the Max N10 Tugger, Pallet Stacker, and SurePath fleet management software. The company expects to more than double its revenue in 2019 from approximately $4 million in 2018.

While AutoGuide's revenue is small in relation to its purchase price, the deal could pay off over the long term for Teradyne if industry forecasts of aggressive growth in the robotic tugger and automated fork truck markets come to fruition, according to a report by U.K.-based market research firm Interact Analysis.

"The acquisition of AutoGuide for $148 [million] looks costly, but could prove a prudent, long-term gamble by Teradyne," Ash Sharma, research director at Interact Analysis, said in the report. "Whilst AutoGuide's sales have been modest to date and yet to breach the $10 [million] mark, it is currently on a high-growth trajectory and the market segments it addresses are forecast to grow strongly."

Adding the smaller firm to its stable of products allows Teradyne to leapfrog into position as a top 15 vendor in the combined mobile robot business, and should help accelerate AutoGuide's global sales growth, and drive faster cost reduction of its AGVs and AMRs, Sharma said in the paper.

Editor's note: This story was revised on Oct. 23 to include input from Interact Analysis.

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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