ABB opens $150 million robotics factory in Shanghai

An intelligent robot manufactured by ABB Group demonstrates its calligraphic skills during the fifth World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on September 1, 2022. [Photo provided to]

ABB Group, the Swiss tech company, is in the final stages of commissioning its new $150 million robotics factory in Shanghai, and the facility is expected to be up and running in the next few months, a senior official said.

It will be the most advanced, automated and flexible factory in the robotics industry worldwide – a center where robots make robots, said Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation.

“The new facility will also house an on-site R&D center that will help accelerate innovation in artificial intelligence and an open innovation center where we will work with customers to jointly develop customized automation solutions,” said he.

As part of ABB’s plan, the new factory will provide high-end manufacturing solutions for Asia and part of the group’s comprehensive value chain in China: from research to sales and service.

“Robotics can bridge labor and skill shortages while offering companies a greater degree of flexibility. We have seen that much of the current demand for automation is coming from new sectors and companies that have not previously considered it,” said Atiya.

One example is the flexible automated pharmacy that ABB built for the Shanghai Seventh People’s Hospital. A robot can dispense medicines to patients in a busy brick-and-mortar pharmacy 50 percent faster, making the entire process traceable while simplifying inventory management and ultimately reducing the labor intensity of medical staff, allowing them to do more valuable work.

China is striving to strengthen its growth power, and in December 2021 issued a guideline for the robotics industry for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), a group of leading enterprises with international competitiveness and the formation of multiple industrial clusters with international appeal.

“As we are at a tipping point in adapting the simulation, design and collaboration of virtual worlds into real and practical benefits for businesses, we are constantly looking at the latest developments in virtual technology and artificial intelligence,” said Atiya and added the group will continue to create solutions that combine artificial intelligence-based robotics with simple and easy-to-use management and programming software.

China’s new round of reform and opening-up will encourage global high-end manufacturing companies to further transform traditional industries with smart manufacturing in the country, said Wang Wen, executive dean of Renmin University of China’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies.

China’s actual use of foreign capital rose 17.3 percent annually to 798.33 billion yuan in the first seven months of 2022. Growth rates for high-tech manufacturing and high-tech services were 33 and 31.8 percent year-on-year over the seven-month period, statistics from the Department of Commerce showed.

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