SPX acquires ULC Robotics, provider of utilities inspection robotics as a service

One of the more innovative uses for robotics has been for inspection of critical infrastructure. SPX Corp. today said it has acquired ULC Robotics, which has produced robots, software, and inspection technology for the energy, utility, and industrial sectors. ULC also conducts custom research and development for its customers. No amount was specified.

Charlotte, N.C.-based SPX supplies products and technologies for the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), detection and measurement, and engineered solutions markets. The company reported about $1.5 billion in annual revenue last year and has approximately 4,500 employees in 17 countries.

Hauppauge, N.Y.-based ULC Robotics was founded in 2001 and provides unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robots that can crawl into live gas lines, and machine learning applications. Its customers include gas and electric utilities, as well as developers and owners of offshore wind and renewable power installations. ULC, which has been an RBR50 company five times, said it has about 160 employees and a significant presence in the U.K.

ULC a RaaS pioneer

ULC Robotics’ CISBOT is designed to safely inspect and repair live gas lines without disrupting local traffic with excavations. The company claimed to be a pioneer in the field of robotics as a service (RaaS), which shifts customer expenses from capital expenditures to operational expenditures, as well as provides it with recurring revenue.

In January, ULC said it was halfway through development of an electric excavation robot with U.K. gas company SGN. It has also been testing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drones and working with Facebook on a robot to install fiber-optic cables alongside existing electrical lines.

Over the past 12 months, ULC reported revenue of about $40 million, and future results will be integrated and reported in the Detection & Measurement segment of SPX’s Location & Inspection platform. SPX said it expects the acquisition to have a “modest impact” on its 2020 adjusted earnings per share.

“This transaction is a great step forward for ULC Robotics,” stated Gregory Penza, founder and CEO of ULC Robotics. “SPX’s extensive resources, expertise at commercializing new products, and dedication to growing its Location & Inspection portfolio create attractive opportunities for ULC’s employees and customers alike.”

SPX to leave ULC units separate

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, a subsidiary of SPX acquired ULC Robotics Inc., ULC Robotics International Inc., and ULC Pipeline Robotics LLC for cash consideration that includes an upfront payment and subsequent, contingent cash payments depending on certain operational and financial performance milestones. ULC’s RaaS CISBOT business and R&D business will operate under separate, distinct legal entities within SPX.

“We are excited to welcome the ULC Robotics team to SPX,” said Gene Lowe, president and CEO of SPX Corp. “ULC’s robotics-as-a-service business is a strong complement to SPX’s world-class suite of solutions for the location, inspection and maintenance of underground infrastructure.”

“The addition of ULC’s R&D business further enhances SPX’s capacity to develop advanced technology solutions, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, for customers across our platforms,” he added. “The combination of ULC Robotics’ expertise in technology and solutions development with SPX’s market-leading capabilities in product commercialization, market development, and brand and channel management creates strong growth opportunities for our employees, customers, and shareholders.”

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