Factory of the future: Robots will build more robots in China
ROBOTICS and artificial intelligence are set to reach an unprecedented new high in the next few years.
On Saturday, Swiss robotic giant ABB Group announced that they will be splashing US$150 million in Shanghai, China to build the “world’s most advanced, automated and flexible robotics factory – a cutting-edge center where robots make robots.”
Dubbed the “factory of the future,” the new Kangqio manufacturing center near ABB’s China robotic campus slated to be fully operational in 2020.
It will, according to ABB’s statement announcing the project, combine the company’s “connected digital technologies, state of the art collaborative robotics and innovative artificial intelligence research” to create a plant that is environmentally sustainable.
The plant will produce robots for China and the rest of Asia. China is a key market for ABB, second only to the United States in terms of revenues.
ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said, “China’s commitment to transform its manufacturing is a torchlight for the rest of the world.
“Its strategic embrace of the latest technologies for artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and cloud-based computing present a playbook for every country that wishes to have a globally competitive manufacturing base.”
Many small parts of the new 75,000 square foot plant will feature ABB’s YuMI robots that are designed to work in tandem with humans, and ABB will utilize software that allows for humans and robots to work safely next to each other.
Instead of fixed assembly lines, the factory will be have a “flexible floorplan based on interlinked islands of automation.”
The new expansion builds on ABB’s presence in Shanghai which was established two decades ago and solidifies the company’s spots as China’s largest industrial robotics manufacturer.
In March, ABB’s Chinese competitor Kuka also announced that it planned to invest US$455 million in a new robot park in South China’s Shunde — in hopes of becoming the country’s leading robotics manufacturer.
China is keen on expanding its robotic workforce to counter the rising labor costs at home, according to Reuters. Last year alone, it purchased nearly 138,000 robot units, which is about one out every three robots produced.
Robots produced by ABB are currently being used in the manufacture of automobile and electronic devices, among other things and the Shanghai plant will churn out robotic solutions for many other industries, according to ABB’s spokesperson.