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Forklift vendor Jungheinrich is joining other partners to make a $24.5 million investment in the German autonomous mobile robot (AMR) maker Magazino GmbH, which makes collaborative bots that can help make warehouse workers more efficient at e-commerce and fashion logistics tasks.

Jungheinrich will join forces with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other previous investors to make the “series B” financing round. In addition, the EIB is providing Magazino with financing of up to $14 million, secured by a guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), an organization which channels private capital into projects that strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy.

Taken together, the new support will allow Magazino to expand international sales activities and to accelerate the expansion of its “ACROS.AI” software stack, a platform for intelligent robots that is also used on third-party hardware.

But the deal also marks the start of a “broad strategic cooperation” between Jungheinrich and Magazino, which intend to combine their skill sets in the field of mobile automation, the companies said. That cooperation is driven by the firms’ forecast of double-digit growth rates in logistics automation in coming years, driven by persistently strong growth in online trade and by a global shortage in logistics specialists, particularly forklift operators.

Jungheinrich is hardly alone in making that market assessment, following similar announcements earlier this year from other forklift vendors who are also teaming up with robot makers. Last month, German material handling giant Kion Group AG moved to collaborate with Chinese robotics startup Quicktron, and in 2019, UniCarriers Americas (UCA) said it was teaming up with Vecna Robotics to create a line of autonomous material handling vehicles for warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing environments.

In addition, a flurry of system integrators have struck deals with AMR vendors in recent months to address a spike in e-commerce orders that has emerged during the depths of the global coronavirus recession.

The move could open new markets for Magazino, which also counts German material handling powerhouse the Körber Group as an investor. In past applications, Magazino has deployed its robots for e-commerce fulfillment work, such as a project with Zalando, a European fashion and lifestyle retailer.

“Magazino is a highly innovative young company that has outstanding skills in the area of navigation and control software for mobile automation,” Lars Brzoska, chairman of the board of management of Jungheinrich AG, said in a release. “This investment follows our strategy in the field of automation and will make a significant contribution to the accelerated expansion of our business with automated trucks.”



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