Tesla just bought an automation company to help it build the factory of the future -- here's what we know about it

  • Tesla said on Monday that it has acquired Perbix Machine Company, a factory automation company.
  • The automaker said that the company will help it build the factory of the future. 
  • Perbix will continue to operate as part of Tesla in Minnesota and is looking to hire more talent in the area. 

Tesla is ramping up investment in its manufacturing process amid Model 3 production problems.

The automaker and energy company said on Monday that it had acquired a factory automation company called Perbix Machine Company. 

Tesla did not disclose terms of the deal, but it did say that it purchased the Minnesota-based company with cash and shares. 

Here’s what we know about the company.

Perbix specialises in designing and building highly automated manufacturing equipment and has been a supplier for Tesla for almost three years, according to a Tesla filing with the SEC.

Tesla purchased the company to help it further automate its factories.

'With the acquisition of Perbix, Tesla further advances its efforts to turn the factory itself into a product -- to build the machine that makes the machine,' Tesla said on its website.

Musk has been focused on turning Tesla's factories into a product itself for some time. This is because the more automated a factory is, the more efficient it becomes, thus helping to keep down the price of products.

'The biggest epiphany I've had this year is that what really matters is the machine that builds the machine, the factory,' Musk said during an interview with Y Combinator's Sam Altman in September 2016. 'And that this is at least two orders of magnitude harder than the vehicle itself.'

Tesla also purchased Grohmann Engineering, a German automation company, last November to help with this endeavour.

Musk has said that the manufacturing process for its Model 3 is the most automated system yet. However, the company has run into trouble with one of the assembly lines at the Gigafactory where it makes its batteries.


Musk said during a third-quarter earnings call last week that a third-party supplier who was responsible for the part of the assembly line with issues 'dropped the ball,' causing production problems.

Tesla said in a statement to the StarTribune, though, that Perbix 'has executed flawlessly on a number of extremely complex automation projects.'

Perbix was founded in 1976 by Tom Perbix and sold to its current owner, Jim Dudley, in 2001.

Perbix's website was taken down after its deal with Tesla was announced, but on a cached version of its website, the company said that the majority of its sales come from services that were started after Dudley took over.

This includes high-machining services and design and build services, according to the cached webpage. Under Perbix, the company focused primarily on machining parts and assembly.

As part of the deal, Dudley got 34,772 Tesla shares, which is the equivalent of about $US10.5 million at the current stock price of about $US300 per share.

Jim Dudley, Perbix CEO.

The company is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and currently employs some 150 people. Tesla said, though, that it plans to grow its workforce in the Twin Cities.

A Perbix employee.

'We want to hear from the best engineers in the area who are interested in working with us to help design the factory of the future,' Tesla said to the StarTribune.

In fact, Tesla has already listed several job postings for different positions at the Minnesota facility.

The company will continue to operate as part of Tesla in Minnesota, where it has a 6,540-square-metre facility. According to a cached version of its website, about half of this space is used for machine shops and assembly bays. Some of Perbix's partners include the robotics companies Denso Robotics, Kuka, and Rockwell Automation, according to a cached version of Perbix's website.

Perbix facility

While the company's website has been deactivated, the company's YouTube page still has a video posted from 2012 that talks about its business. You can check it out below.

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