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A robot performing a simulated surgery during the 2018 National Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week in Beijing on October 9, 2018. Photo: Xinhua

ABB invests US$150 million in Shanghai factory to capitalise on China’s ambitions in robotics

  • Production is expected to begin by the end of 2020 and annual capacity will be around 100,000 robots, ABB says

ABB will invest US$150 million to build a robotics factory in Shanghai, as the Swiss manufacturer capitalises on China’s rising consumption and aspiration to transform into a technology pioneer.

This new factory will set out to “shape the next generation of manufacturing, the next generation of capacity,” Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer said in an interview in Shanghai on Saturday.

Production is expected to begin by the end of 2020 and annual capacity will be around 100,000 robots, or one quarter of its global demand last year, Spiesshofer said.

‘Made In China 2025’: a peek at the robot revolution under way in the hub of the ‘world’s factory’

The Shanghai plant, located in the Kangqiao area, will be the Swiss company’s single largest robotics facility around the world, producing the full range of ABB’s products from small payload robots to large ones that can lift an entire car, according to Spiesshofer.

The Shanghai factory will also include a research and development centre in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The R&D centre and the factory “combined will position us strongly in a competitive environment,” said Spiesshofer, who is visiting China for the sixth time this year.

Zurich-based ABB’s share price has been on a losing streak after its third-quarter earnings missed estimates on slower demand growth from the Middle East and UK.

Infographics: How China aims to dominate the world of robotics

Operations in China, now ABB’s second-largest market with annual sales at US$6 billion, outperformed the overall business with 13 per cent growth in total orders.

ABB also signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Shanghai government today to support the city’s industry, energy, transport and infrastructure, according to a statement.