Coming soon to China: A factory where robots will build robots.
Swiss firm ABB Group plans to build a $150 million “Factory of the Future” in Shanghai, it said in a statement Saturday. It will become the most high-tech robotics manufacturing site on the planet, the company said. The plant is slated to open in 2020.
ABB maintains numerous operations, ranging from sales and engineering to manufacturing, across North Carolina. Its Americans headquarters is located in Cary.
ABB Robotics produces industrial robots that can be moved to other factories to take on tasks like building cars, assembling electronics or making food.
The Shanghai factory will host artificial intelligence research, and humans will work alongside robots.
The company’s YuMi robot, a two-armed headless device designed to work with people, will be put to use on the factory floor.
Autopiloted carts will also follow robots around the factory, carting necessary supplies, according to a press release.
The Shanghai factory adds to the more than $2.4 billion that ABB has invested in China, considered a key market for the company since 1992.
The company’s goal wasn’t to build the largest factory, it was to build the most “flexible” space, according to Per Vegard Nerseth, managing director of ABB’s Robotics business, which produces industrial robots and software for companies across the globe.
Rather than fixed assembly lines, the Shanghai factory will make use of a mobile grid that objects will move through as they’re built.
ABB also has robotics plants in Västerås, Sweden and Auburn Hills, Michigan. The decision to invest heavily in China comes as a tense trade dispute is playing out between Beijing and Washington.