Mobile robot supplier OTTO Motors last week announced plans to enter the Japanese market in its first expansion outside of North America. The industrial division of Clearpath Robotics Inc. develops self-driving vehicles for materials transport within factories and warehouses.
OTTO Motors said it is partnering with Altech, a specialized trading company that imports advanced machinery and equipment form Europe and the U.S. to support Japanese industrial companies. The announcement occurred at RoboDEX2020, an annual development and application event in Tokyo.
“This is a big moment for OTTO Motors,” said Richard Baker, the company‘s chief revenue officer. “Our innovative self-driving vehicles have been helping modernize factories throughout the United States and Canada since 2015. OTTO Motors entered the Japan market in 2018, and with several successful deployments completed, we are expanding our efforts in Japan working alongside Altech.”
OTTO delivers door panels for Mazda
The two companies said they have already begun serving customers in the automotive, food, and industrial equipment industries in Japan. This includes HIROTEC, a Tier 1 automotive parts supplier to Mazda.
HIROTEC installed three OTTO self-driving vehicles within its Hiroshima plant to deliver Mazda door panels to welding cells as part of a mission-critical process.
The mobile platform allowed HIROTEC to reconfigure its processes to improve material movement efficiency and increase throughput, said OTTO Motors. By installing the mobile robots, HIROTEC could eliminate the need for eight legacy automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
The company said this was the second deployment of its systems within HIROTEC, the first being deployed at HIROTEC Americas in 2017 to help automate spare parts production.
“Altech has a proud history of providing high-quality technology products and services to our customers,” said Hidehiko Suyama, executive director of Altech. “Now, we are proud to be the first to bring OTTO Motors products to the Japanese market, where we know there is great demand across several industries.”
Mobile robotics companies continue to deploy self-driving industrial vehicles in factories and warehouses, as the global market for these types of robots is forecast to exceed $224 billion by 2030, according to ABI Research.
OTTO said demand in Japan is expected to be particularly high because of the country’s aging population.
“Having fewer young people than older people means that there is not enough labor supply to do all the work needed to power the economy,” the company said. “Japanese manufacturers must rely on self-driving vehicles and other forms of industrial automation because there simply are not enough humans to do all the work that needs to be done.”