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ABB opens $150m robotics ‘mega-factory’ in China

05 December, 2022

ABB has opened a fully automated and flexible robotics factory in Shanghai, China, representing an investment of $150m. The 67,000m2 production and research facility will use the company’s digital and automation technologies to manufacture next-generation robots.

The facility brings together the physical and digital worlds, creating a digital manufacturing ecosystem that uses virtual planning and production management systems to improve performance and maximise productivity by collecting and analysing data. There are no traditional, fixed assembly lines – instead flexible, modular production cells are digitally connected and networked, and served by autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). AI-powered robotic systems handle tasks such as screwdriving, assembling and material handling.

“Building on three decades of success in China, the opening of our new mega-factory is another milestone in helping our customers grow sustainably, address labour shortages and create high-value jobs in a new era of automation,” says ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation president, Sami Atiya. “Our innovative, automated and flexible factory plays a key role in our strategy of ‘in China, for China,’ strengthening our full value-chain here. With over 90% of sales supported by our factory, the new facility will help our customers in China create more locally made products, solutions and services.”

The site’s 8,000m2 R&D centre will create innovations in AI, digitalisation and software, such as autonomous mobility systems, digital twins, machine vision and low-code programming software, to make robots more intelligent, flexible, safer and easier to use.

“This manufacturing and R&D facility brings to life our vision for the factory of the future – where flexible automation makes production and intra-logistics more resilient, faster and more efficient,” says ABB Robotics president, Marc Segura. “It embodies our commitment to the latest in flexible, modular, intelligent manufacturing and it represents our focus on AI learning technologies for smarter robotics. At our new R&D facility, we will co-develop new solutions with businesses to prepare them for a new age of automation in the world’s largest robotics market.”

ABB’s new $150m robotics mega-factory in China contains no traditional fixed assembly lines

The Shanghai factory follows the opening earlier this year of an ABB global innovation and training campus for machine automation in Austria and its Learning Factory 4.0 in Berlin.

ABB predicts that the global robot market will grow from $80bn today to $130bn by 2025. China the world’s biggest robotics market, accounted for 51% of global robot installations in 2021, and now has more than a million operational systems. According to a recent report from the International Federation of Robotics, China has overtaken the US in terms of its robot density, with 322 robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees compared to 274 in the US, and global average of 141. South Korea has 1,000 robots per 10,000 employees, Singapore has 670, Japan has 399 and Germany has 397.

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