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Honeywell to Buy Logistics Automation Leader Intelligrated

Through its acquisition of Intelligrated, Honeywell is making a bid for a better position in a global warehouse automation market worth about $20 billion.

If there’s any doubt about the value that warehousing and logistics automation has taken on over the past few years, just look at the return Permira has gained on Intelligrated during that time. The global investment firm purchased Intelligrated—a key player in supply chain and warehouse automation—for about $500 million in 2012. Now Permira is selling it to Honeywell for $1.5 billion in cash. Reuters reported last week that Toyota Industries had also been competing to buy Intelligrated.

Honeywell announced it has signed an agreement to acquire privately held Intelligrated for what amounts to about 12 times Intelligrated’s estimated 2016 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). The company’s 2016 sales are estimated at about $900 million.

Intelligrated’s supply chain and warehouse offerings are part of a drive for improved productivity and lower costs for retailers, in particular, which are surely compelled to more efficient service models in the face of need-it-now customer expectations. Amazon is the poster child for this kind of model, with free two-day shipping and even two-hour shipping for its Prime customers. It made news in 2012 with its $775 million acquisition of Kiva Systems, whose robots have automated the movement of products inside Amazon’s warehouses. Amazon is also a customer of Intelligrated, as are other major retailers such as Nordstrom and Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as United Parcel Service.

Manufacturers face a similar push for increased automation and improved efficiency in materials handling. The industry is growing at a double-digit rate, and Intelligrated has had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 13% over the past three years, faster than the industry overall.

“E-commerce continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, and customer demands for faster delivery times have created a need for warehouse, logistics and fulfillment solutions that can increase productivity and lower costs for our customers,” said Alex Ismail, President and CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions. “This acquisition fits with our vision for a connected industrial company and a connected worker.”

Headquartered in Mason, Ohio, Intelligrated employs more than 3,100 people in manufacturing and regional offices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China. The company was founded in 2001 and grew quickly via organic growth and strategic acquisitions.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review. Upon approval, Intelligrated will be part of Sensing and Productivity Solutions (S&PS) in Honeywell’s Automation and Control Solutions business. Intelligrated’s co-founders Chris Cole, CEO, and Jim McCarthy, president and COO, recently won a regional Masters of Entrepreneurship award from Ernst & Young. Both will continue to serve in a leadership role.

“Intelligrated’s leading supply chain automation solutions are a fantastic complement to Honeywell’s portfolio of industry-leading workflow performance solutions, including cloud-connected mobile worker applications, high-performance data collection hardware, and other technologies to improve worker productivity,” said John Waldron, president of S&PS.

Editor's note: Article author Aaron Hand is the Executive Editor of Automation World


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