Manufacturing and Technology

Manufacturer invests in robotics company

June 20, 2018
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Burke Porter Group machine manufacturer
Grand Rapids Township-based Burke Porter Group is a family of companies that make "intelligent" machines for manufacturers in multiple industries. Photo via

A local manufacturer has invested in an out-of-state company that makes robotic systems for soft goods manufacturing.

Ada-based Burke Porter Group, or BPG, a maker of intelligent machines, said yesterday it made a capital investment in Sunnyvale, California-based Grabit.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the investment, BPG secured an exclusive manufacturing licensing agreement for Stackit, Grabit’s automated material stacking robotic system for the manufacture of soft goods.

BPG did not disclose what the licensing agreement entails.

“The investment in Grabit, and the licensing agreement in Stackit, enhances our advanced manufacturing capabilities to address the unmet needs in soft goods, including carbon fiber materials,” said David DeBoer, CEO, BPG. “This continues diversifying our solutions available on a global scale.”

Grabit’s technology — which leverages its own patents and licensed patents of SRI International — can automate the handling of virtually any material, including fabrics and porous materials.

BPG also said Grabit’s products address challenges in difficult-to-automate industries.

Greg Miller, president and CEO of Grabit, said the investment in his company will be put to good use.

“Securing strategic partnerships with companies like the Burke Porter Group is crucial to our continued innovation for our global manufacturing and warehouse logistics customers,” Miller said.

“The financing will be applied to the ongoing development of flexible robotic solutions leveraging our electro-adhesion technologies and machine learning software.”

Burke Porter Group

Founded in 1953 and owned by Hong Kong-based China Everbright, BPG designs, manufactures and supplies customized intelligent machinery that integrates sensor-based feedback to modify machine control and performance.

Its customers are in the automotive, advanced manufacturing and life sciences industries in 37 locations in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

BPG’s portfolio includes a number of brands: Burke E. Porter Machinery Co., CIMAT, EPIC Equipment & Engineering, Kleinknecht, Korvis, Lismar, Primatics, Titan, Universal Balancing, Van Hoecke Automation and XL Machine Co.


Founded by Harsha Prahlad, Grabit is a robotic and machine learning company working to “revolutionize” manufacturing and warehouse logistics.

Its current investors include Formation 8, Draper Nexus, Danhua Capital, Nike, Samsung, Brother Industries, ABB, Shanghai Electric, Flex, NTT Docomo and the Esquel Group.

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