* The mega factory in the Pudong New Area is the largest robotics R&D, manufacturing, and application base of ABB worldwide.
* As one of three ABB Robotics factories worldwide, the new facility in Shanghai, which replaces the existing site, will support customers in Asia.
* As one of the most advanced and automated economies in the world, China is now a hugely important market for ABB.
SHANGHAI, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Swiss tech giant ABB on Friday officially opened its largest and fully automated robotics factory where "robots make robots" in Shanghai.
This photo taken on Dec. 2, 2022 shows the opening ceremony of the ABB Robotics Mega Factory in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, east China. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
The mega factory in the Pudong New Area is the largest robotics R&D, manufacturing, and application base of ABB worldwide, the company said. It involved an investment of 150 million U.S. dollars and covers an area of 67,000 square meters.
"Building on three decades of success in China, the opening of our new mega factory is another milestone in helping our customers grow sustainably, address labor shortages and create high-value jobs in a new era of automation," said Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation.
As one of three ABB Robotics factories worldwide, the new facility in Shanghai, which replaces the existing site, will support customers in Asia, ABB said.
Liang Rui, president of the ABB Robotics Division in China, told Xinhua that the company will take advantage of the factory's bigger capacity, and more advanced and flexible manufacturing techniques to better serve the Chinese market and the Asia-Pacific market at large.
FACTORY OF THE FUTURE
ABB said the new facility will deploy its digital and automation technologies to manufacture next-generation robots.
The facility creates a digital manufacturing ecosystem that harnesses virtual planning and production management systems to improve performance and maximize productivity through the collection and analysis of data.
A robot makes coffee for visitors at the ABB Robotics Mega Factory in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, east China, Dec. 2, 2022. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
There are no traditional, fixed assembly lines, but flexible, modular production cells that are digitally connected and networked, and served by intelligent autonomous mobile robots, the company said in a statement.
AI-powered robotic systems take on tasks such as screwdriving, assembling and material handling, relieving people from these tasks and enabling more rewarding work.
"This manufacturing and R&D facility brings to life our vision for the factory of the future, where flexible automation makes production and intra-logistics more resilient, faster and more efficient," said Marc Segura, president of ABB Robotics.
The site's R&D center, covering an area of 8,000 square meters, will create new innovations in AI, digitalization and software, such as autonomous mobility, digital twins, machine vision and low-code programming software, to make robots more intelligent, more flexible, and safer and easier to use.
These innovations, co-developed with partners and customers in ABB's "open lab," will help unlock new possibilities for flexible automation in new sectors such as new energy vehicles, logistics, healthcare, food and beverages, said the company.
The new factory shows ABB's unwavering commitment to China, the world's largest robotics market. It underlines ABB's commitment to manufacturing in China and for China, Atiya said via video link.
This aerial photo taken on Dec. 2, 2022 shows the ABB Robotics Mega Factory in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, east China. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
ABB said it employs more than 15,000 people in over 130 cities in China, and that China remains one of its most important R&D and manufacturing centers.
As one of the most advanced and automated economies in the world, China is now a hugely important market for ABB, Atiya said. "Today, we see unprecedented demand from Chinese businesses to automate."
Over the years, the world's second-largest economy has been going through an industrial upgrade, generating robust demand for robotics as more enterprises steer toward intelligent manufacturing.
ABB predicts that the global robot market will grow from 80 billion U.S. dollars today to 130 billion U.S. dollars in 2025.
China is the world's largest market for industrial robots, with its production reaching about 366,000 units in 2021, a 10-fold increase from 2015, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
In the next three years, Shanghai plans to build 220 intelligent factories amid the city's big push for a manufacturing transformation, said Tang Wenkan, deputy director of the Shanghai municipal commission of economy and informatization.
"Now, with our new mega factory, we can meet the surge in demand for automation in China, particularly from new segments such as new energy vehicle manufacturing, wearable electronics, restaurants, healthcare, e-commerce, retail and service robotics, among many others," Liang said.
The new plant also indicates China's strong appeal to foreign businesses. Like ABB, many foreign-funded businesses are doubling down on their investments in China.
This photo taken on Dec. 2, 2022 shows the ABB Robotics Mega Factory in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, east China. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 14.4 percent year on year to nearly 1.09 trillion yuan in the first 10 months of 2022, according to the Ministry of Commerce. In U.S. dollar terms, inflows increased 17.4 percent year on year to hit 168.34 billion U.S. dollars.
The high-tech manufacturing sector reported much stronger growth, with FDI inflows surging 57.2 percent year on year in the January-October period.
Most foreign manufacturing businesses in China still see China as a major investment destination, with investment confidence continuously rising, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce earlier this year.
(Reporting by Zhou Rui, Yang Youzong, Li Baojie; Video reporters: Sun Qing, Zhou Rui; Video editors: Zhang Zhihuan, Li Qin, Huang Aiping, Wang Haiyan) ■