With a massive robotics factory in Shanghai, ABB is doubling down on China's goals for smart manufacturing

With a massive robotics factory in Shanghai, ABB is doubling down on China’s goals for smart manufacturing

Swiss engineering and automation giant ABB Group is doubling down on China’s smart manufacturing industrial development (Ambitions) with a massive 67,000 square meter robot factory in Shanghai.

Located near the Zurich-based company’s China robotics campus, the factory represents a US$150 million investment by ABB and will produce robots for China as well as for export elsewhere in Asia.

Sami Attia, President of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation, announced that the mega complex in Shanghai’s Pudong New District is the company’s largest robotics manufacturing and application base when ABB officially launched its 67,000-square-meter production and research facility on December 2.

“Shanghai has become a major high-tech leadership center – for ABB and the world. Our automated and flexible factory plays a key role in our “In China, for China” strategy, strengthening our entire value chain here. With more than 90% of sales Supported by our factory, the new facility will help our customers in China create more home-made products, solutions and services.”

With the factory, ABB is banking on Chinese robot sales as the market has an unprecedented demand for robotic solutions.

China is ABB’s second largest market after the United States, and the new mega plant will enable it to increase the depth and breadth of products it can produce, ultimately helping its Chinese customers and those in the larger Asia Pacific market to grow sustainably, address labor shortages, and create high jobs. Value in a new age of automation.

“In the new factory, the more advanced manufacturing process and higher degree of automation save space by 50% and enhance our production capacity by 300%. Despite the short-term challenges, China’s role as a global manufacturing center, the continuing trend towards mass customization and the growing shortage of skilled labor will continue. in creating strong and enduring demand for automation solutions in the region.”

ABB has always been optimistic about China’s progress in smart manufacturing.

In 2018, ABB showed its confidence in the Chinese market by announcing a US$150 million investment for a robotics factory in Shanghai where robots will make other robots.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, ABB President Peter Voser said China’s manufacturing sector has a huge need for automation, which both robots and a whole range of related manufacturing technologies can meet.

“Automation will drive industries in the future towards autonomous manufacturing. This requires robots, but not just the robot itself as a product – but you also need end-to-end solutions for manufacturing,” said Peter Voser, Chairman of the Board of Directors of multinational technology company ABB.

In 2015, ABB established its Chinese subsidiary ABB Robotics (Zhuhai) to enhance automatic processes in many factories across China.

Robots are an important part of China’s smart manufacturing ambitions, which aim to develop high-quality technologies domestically to catch up with Western competitors.

This led to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announcing the Intelligent Manufacturing Development Plan linked to the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan.

Chinese policymakers define smart manufacturing as manufacturing integrated with information technology and automation, which enables and drives data-driven production, automated and digitalized processes, and intelligent supply chain optimization.

Part of the reason China is pushing towards smart manufacturing are some of the major challenges facing Chinese manufacturers.

Faced with challenges such as declining working-age population and rising wages, it is not surprising that companies in export-oriented Guangdong Province and elsewhere in China are embracing automation.

For example, Chinese home appliance giant Gree started its own automation program in 2012 to manufacture its own robots, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and other automation equipment.

Midea joined Gree to expand into the automation segment, one of Gree’s biggest local competitors. In November, Midea regrouped its corporate structure to split automation and robotic business into a separate business division, signaling its intention to accelerate robotics and automation development.

The move came a few months after the company announced that it plans to spend around €151 million (US$165 million) to fully acquire Kuka before delisting the leading German maker of industrial robots.

Kuka is one of the world’s largest producers of industrial robots and a famous brand in Germany to modernize its manufacturing sector to master the industrial internet

Midea owns more than 95% of Kuka after a takeover offer in 2016 that enables it to control cutting-edge German industrial technology.

Other notable M&A deals over the past two years include ChemChina’s 2016 acquisition of German company Krauss Maffei; Chongqing Nanshang Investment Group acquisition of HTI Cybernautics of Sterling Heights, acquisition of Huachangda Intelligent Equipment Products Robot System Products,

According to Mordor Intelligence, the robotics market is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 17.6% between 2022 and 2027, and the Asia-Pacific region is expected to retain significant market share due to the heavy adoption of robots during the forecast period.

As China faces an aging population, the use of robotics is dominated by China as government organizations plan to rely more on robots in their workforce.

Apart from the ABB robots. Philips (Zhuhai), Siemens, Japanese Faunc and Yaskawa are also active players in the industrial robots sector in China with a series of partnership and investment deals over the past few years.

For example, Philips selected Hai Robotics’ Autonomous Case Handling Robot (ACR) systems in 2019 to increase automation in Zhuhai production; The systems were officially implemented in April 2022.

Image from photography Lalit Kumar employment unsplash

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