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MTM Robotics
MTM Robotics’ light automated robotic systems are already in use in Airbus’ manufacturing facilities. (Airbus Photo)

Airbus says it has acquired MTM Robotics, a Seattle-area company that provides automated systems for aerospace manufacturing, for an undisclosed sum.

MTM’s headquarters are in Mukilteo, Wash., just a few miles from Boeing’s Everett factory. But MTM has had a close connection to Boeing’s European archrival: For more than a decade, the company has provided light automated robotics systems for Airbus’ manufacturing facilities.

As an subsidiary of Virginia-based Airbus Americas Inc., MTM will retain its current leadership and 40-employee staff at the 10,000-square-foot Mukilteo facility, Airbus said today in a news release.

“We are pleased and excited to become a part of the Airbus family, and look forward to further integrating our products and approaches into the Airbus industrialization chain,” MTM founder Mike Woogerd said.

Since its inception in 2003, MTM, formerly known as Mobile Tool Management, has deployed more than 40 aerospace manufacturing systems — including machines, tools and software — throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In addition to Airbus, its customers have included Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Airbus said the acquisition is part of its strategy to take advantage of robotics to reduce the time and the cost of assembling commercial aircraft.

“The competitiveness of tomorrow will be determined by both designing the best aircraft and by building the most efficient manufacturing system, in parallel,“ said Michael Schoellhorn, Airbus’ chief operating officer. “Automation and robotics are central to our industrial strategy. We are very happy to welcome MTM Robotics as a family member and take a step forward on this exciting endeavor together.”

Boeing has also brought more automation and robotics into its manufacturing process over the past few years, sometimes with mixed results. Last month, The Seattle Times reported that Boeing stopped using a fuselage assembly system because it turned out that humans were more reliable than the robots.

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