German material handling giant Kion Group AG will collaborate with a Chinese robotics startup in a bid to expand Kion’s offering of mobile solutions including automated lift trucks, the company said today.

Frankfurt, Germany-based Kion unveiled a partnership with Quicktron, a Xiamen, China-based manufacturer of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and said it plans to eventually obtain a minority stake in the Chinese company totaling less than 10% ownership, Kion said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, Quicktron products are now being distributed via the global sales and service networks of Kion’s brands—Linde Material Handling, Still, and Dematic—thus expanding its product offering of automated warehouse solutions. “We are delighted to be forming this strategic partnership with Quicktron. We can offer our customers an even more extensive product range in the automated truck segment,” Kion CEO Gordon Riske said in a release.

The announcement follows last week’s news that a flurry of system integrators have struck deals with AMR vendors to address a spike in e-commerce orders that has emerged during the depths of the global coronavirus recession. Recent alliances include: Balloon One with Locus Robotics; Kuecker Logistics Group (KLG) with Geek+; and Advanced Handling Systems LLC (AHS) with Waypoint Robotics.

Quicktron was established in Shanghai in 2014 and employs around 400 individuals worldwide, offering intralogistics solutions using technology based on artificial intelligence (AI).

Kion predicts that both AMRs and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) will become increasingly common as the market for automated supply chain solutions grows rapidly, both in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. The growth of e-commerce is a significant driver of demand for supply chain solutions, including warehouse automation and solutions for sorting and for automated goods transport, Kion said.


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