ABB opened a new 67,000-square-meter robotics factory in Kangquiao, Shanghai, China last week. The $150 million facility harnesses virtual planning and production management systems to maximize productivity.
The new facility will use flexible, modular production cells instead of traditional, fixed assembly lines. These production cells are digitally connected and networked. Inside the cells, robotic systems perform tasks like screwdriving, assembling and material handling. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) zip around the facility ensuring all of the production cells are kept up to date.
“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 labor shortages and create high-value jobs in a new era of automation,” said Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation. “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 percent of sales supported by our factory, the new facility will help our customers in China create more locally made products, solutions and services.”
The facility has an 8,000-square-meter research and development center that will focus on creating innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), digitalization and software. These could include research on autonomous mobility, digital twins, machine vision and low-code programming software.
ABB hopes that, with help from its partners and customers in its open lab, it can use its facility to make advancements in sectors like New Energy Vehicles, logistics, healthcare and food and beverage.
“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,” said Marc Segura, president of ABB Robotics. “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 recently unveiled the IRB 1010, which is the company’s smallest industrial robot ever. With a footprint of 135 mm (5.2 inches) by 250 mm (9.8 inches), the IRB 1010 is 30% smaller than ABB’s now second-smallest robot, the IRB 120.