ABB Robotics announced May 20 that it has started manufacturing robots in the US at its Auburn Hills, MI, location—making it the first global robotics company to do so. ABB made the announcement at an Open House and ribbon cutting ceremony, held in conjunction with one of its Customer Days.
The new robotics facility is the third worldwide for ABB. The other two are in Shanghai, China, and Vasteras, Sweden. ABB cited reduced lead times and proximity to customers as reasons for choosing the US as the newest location. Standard product delivery time is expected to drop from 15 weeks to six weeks.
CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer emphasized the company’s investment in the local community during the Ribbon Cutting ceremony, saying that ABB isn’t the kind of company to come in, sell and leave—they invest heavily in training and development. Spiesshofer said that he is “particularly proud of our education and training programs here” and noted that all 500 employees at the Auburn Hills location have received training. With the new robotics manufacturing, employment is expected to double.
The facility is beginning its manufacturing operations with the controllers of the robots and not the mechanical arms. ABB plans to phase in the mechanical arms of certain families of robots w
ithin the next year, and the remainder will be phased in depending on market demand.
Other topics touched on during the event were collaborative robots and the impact of robotics on the manufacturing workforce. Several executives commented on the growing need for smaller, collaborative robots in the next year or so, such as ABB’s YuMi. Per Vegard Nerseth, Senior Vice President and Managing Director – Robotics, said that he sees the strongest growth in the electronics market.
In regards to the potential threat posed to jobs by robotics, both Spiesshofer and Nerseth said that data shows more robotics eventually leads to more jobs, giving the examples of Japan, Germany and South Korea, which are the three countries with the highest industrial robot density that also have low unemployment rates.
Published Date : 5/20/2015