January 29, 2023
OTTO Motors drives Clearpath Robotics into billion-dollar membership

WATERLOO REGION — Because the world economic system slows, enterprise at Clearpath Robotics is poised to take off like by no means earlier than.

That’s because of growing demand for the Kitchener-based firm’s automated supplies dealing with know-how for brand new factories, says co-founder and chief govt officer Matt Rendall.

The enduring pandemic pressured a large reorganization of world provide chains, and for the primary time in additional than a technology, manufacturing is returning to the American Midwest, mentioned Rendall.

“The pandemic uncovered the Achilles heel of world provide chains,” mentioned Rendall.

Labour in North America is scarce, and much costlier than in Asia, so there’s a file demand for know-how that automates supplies dealing with in new American factories. And Clearpath has a division that does solely that — OTTO Autos.

“We’re on the level now the place the market is prepared for what we’ve got in a manner that we’ve got by no means skilled it,” mentioned Rendall.

Starting in 2016, Clearpath launched a model of autonomous autos that transfer components round manufacturing unit flooring and manufacturing traces.

Demand for that elevated steadily, and now 80 per cent of the corporate’s workforce of 350 is targeted on OTTO Autos. It’s attempting to recruit 50 folks in several engineering jobs — electrical, mechanical, software program and robotics — to work for its OTTO division. It’s also aggressively increasing gross sales and help groups.

“At a time when plenty of firms are pumping the brakes or worse, doing giant layoffs, we are attempting to develop the workforce fairly aggressively,” mentioned Rendall.

In the course of the pandemic, Clearpath OTTO expanded into Germany and Japan. Subsequent 12 months it desires to increase into Australia and New Zealand.

Earlier than it sells many OTTO autos into a brand new market, the corporate likes to construct a strong service workforce there.

“Even (with) essentially the most mature of merchandise and applied sciences, it isn’t a query of if one thing unhealthy occurs, it’s a query of when one thing unhealthy occurs. How shortly does your provider reply to it, treatment, and get you again up and operating?” mentioned Rendall.

That sort of progress is why Clearpath was added to Communitech’s listing of Canadian tech companies which are anticipated to generate a billion {dollars} in annual income within the close to future. Referred to as True Crew North, the listed firms have progress charges that match the highest one per cent of firms worldwide.

Communitech says that listing consists of one of the best in Canadian tech. Clearpath is amongst 26 added to the listing that was began earlier this 12 months. Rendall is thrilled about that.

“It elevates us and everyone else on that listing into the minds of a broader viewers of potential strategic companions, and funders,” mentioned Rendall.

Clearpath Robotics was based in 2009 by 4 College of Waterloo graduates — it makes autonomous autos and robots for the world’s most harmful, soiled and monotonous jobs. It just lately bought an autonomous car to a manufacturing firm making a movie about emperor penguins in Antarctica. It would maintain a digital camera regular in frigid Southern Ocean winds.

Because the OTTO Autos division got here to dominate the corporate’s books, it has began calling itself Clearpath OTTO to mirror the OTTO division’s significance to the corporate.

“In the neighborhood, I believe we’ll at all times be known as Clearpath,” mentioned Rendall. “Now we have 350 folks, and 80 per cent of them concentrate on OTTO Motors, all the enterprise capital we’ve got raised is targeted on OTTO Motors, so there may be plenty of momentum behind the OTTO Motors model, that momentum is constructed up extra within the industrial market versus the local people, so it’s sort of like a story of two identities, and we’ve got simply grown to simply accept utilizing them interchangeably.”

It has 4 buildings in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.

The one in Kitchener plant at Manitou Drive and Bleams Street manufactures the seven totally different robots for Clearpath Robotics. The headquarters are close by at Strasburg and Bleams roads.

There’s a robotics facility at Northfield Drive and Weber Road North in Waterloo. There’s a vehicle-testing facility in Cambridge close to the Toyota plant. For years, Toyota has deployed OTTO Autos.

“The following 10 years would be the golden age of automation,” mentioned Rendall. “We simply appear very well positioned for that, and we sort of discover ourselves on this 10-year-overnight-success-story state of affairs.”

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