ABB Robotics has started producing robots in the United States. The company is shifting from an overseas manufacturing model to US-based manufacturing footprint for its North America-bound robotics. Company officials made the announcement as the company opened a new robotics plant at its facility in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The new plant is ABB's third robotics production facility. The others are located in Shanghai, China and Vasteras, Sweden. The Auburn Hills plant will manufacture ABB robots and related equipment for the North American market. The US is ABB's largest market with $7.5 billion in sales. The company has invested more than $10 billion in local R&D, capital expenditure, and acquisitions since 2010, taking US employment from 11,500 to 26,300 in the last five years.
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One of the reasons for opening a US manufacturing facility is to deepen its customer relationships in North America. "The new North American manufacturing presence elevates ABB's commitment to the robotics industry in North America. By investing in North America we will be better able to serve and support our existing and future customers in this region," Keith J. Fox, VP of robots & applications at ABB Robotics, told Design News.
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The products manufactured at the new facility will expand in phases, with the goal being that most ABB robots and robot controllers delivered in North America will be manufactured in Auburn Hills. "The expansion is consistent with our global strategy to provide the greatest possible presence in the key robotics growth markets and will allow us to achieve delivery schedules and technical support that well exceeds what any robotics manufacturer can currently offer," said Fox.
Localized manufacturing streamlines the delivery process, resulting in shorter lead times. "We get improved delivery," he said. "The new manufacturing presence will reduce the standard product delivery times in North America from the current 15 weeks to six weeks for orders of 15 units or less."
Another reason to build locally is the experienced skillset of the population in southeast Michigan. "ABB is committed to the Auburn Hills community and the greater Detroit-metro area," Fox told us. "We will expand our workforce here to a total of 1,000 highly skilled employees if market conditions allow. There is a strong engineering, manufacturing, and automation workforce competence in the area and the surrounding state."
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine, Chile Pepper.
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