Daily Management Review

At ABB’s New China Factory Robots To Make Robots


Swiss engineering company ABB is setting up a robot making factory in China Shanghai, for $150 million where robots would be used to make robots. This is an attempt by the company to hold on to its position as the market leader and the largest manufacturer of industrial robots.
The robots that would be manufactured in the new factory which is placed near ABB’s China robotics campus would be sold in the Chinese market as well as for export in other places in Asia. The factory is expected to start production by the end of 2020. After the United States, China is ABB’s second largest market.
“Shanghai has become a vital center for advanced technology leadership – for ABB and the world,” ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement announcing the project.
The plan for the expansion ABB is based on its assumption of extended demand for robots in the Chinese market despite the ill effects of the escalating trade war with the United States which, according to some analysts, could dampen the local demand for electronics in China as well as for auto parts and other goods which are made in automated manufacturing systems and with robots.
There is an increase in the robot workforce in China because of the increase in the salaries for human workers and the intention of the export oriented market is to manufacture products at low costs through greater automation. ABB said with purchasing of almost 138000 robots, one of every three robots sold in the world was sold to Chinese customers in 2017.
The company said that software that would allow humans and robots to work closely and yet be safe would be made use of in the 75000 square feet factory of ABB. The company added that assembly of many of the smaller parts for making of the ABB robots would be done with its YuMi robots which can work alongside of humans.  
Rival robot making firm Kuka is also on an expansion spree in China and has constructed a robot park in Shunde near Hong Kong, Kuka was acquired by China’s Midea two years ago.
A spokesperson for ABB told the media that the robots that would be manufactured by the existing robots of ABB at the new Shanghai factory can be used for a multitude of tasks and can be put to use in a number of industries compared to the current industrial robots of the company which are primarily used for building automobiles among other things.
ABB did not provide any details of the number of people who would be employed in the new factory but confirmed that the company would make an addition to the current number more than 2000 employees of the company in China who are engaged in making robots.