Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Kuka Systems acquires Utica Companies


April 23, 2013
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Kuka Systems Group has acquired the plant engineering business of privately-owned Utica Companies of Shelby Township, MI, a welding equipment specialist and supplier to the automobile industry.

With this transaction, Kuka Systems becomes the No. 1 manufacturing systems supplier to the North American automotive sector, according to the company. The purchase price was not disclosed but is in the low double digit million euro range.

“This acquisition follows our strategy of being No. 1 or 2 in our respective markets. It not only adds new customers, but will enable us to continue our profitable growth in North America and in Asia,” Dr. Till Reuter, CEO of Kuka AG, the holding company that owns Kuka Systems Group, said in a statement.

“With this acquisition Kuka Systems is leveraging its technologies,” Lawrence A. Drake, president and CEO of Kuka Systems Group, said. “Moreover, our customers will benefit from an expanded manufacturing footprint, talent pool and knowledge base with greater economies of scale. It also stresses our leadership in welding and other joining technologies. We are excited to welcome Utica employees joining Kuka.”

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Both companies’ core market is automotive assembly although Kuka Systems has diversified into building production lines and plat-forms for aerospace, energy and other industries.

The Utica acquisition primarily covers automobile assembly-related assets in southeastern Michigan. Kuka Systems will absorb Utica’s body structure business that builds car body assembly lines and subsystems – as well as products like laser welding heads, net form and pierce systems for high accuracy in joining body sections, standard press room automation for metal stamping and hang-on technologies for installing doors, hoods and other parts on assembly lines.

About 300 Utica employees have joined the more than 1300-member Kuka Systems team in southeastern Michigan. No jobs will be eliminated since Kuka Systems has a considerable order backlog, said Drake, adding: “A major benefit of the transaction is that it secures a highly skilled and experienced workforce for us in Michigan at a time when those skills are be-coming harder to find because of shrinkage in the local industrial base.”