Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB Group will bring more digital and integrated solutions and products into China's service, mining, shipping and maritime engineering, chemical and food industries, as it invested heavily in the country in the second half of this year, its global head said on Wednesday.
His comments came after the company officially announced the launch of production at the ABB Xiamen Hub, which integrates its full value chain including research and development, engineering, manufacturing, sales and service, as well as supply chain management and corporate functions, in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Tuesday, after it announced a $150 million investment in a new robotics plant in Shanghai last month.
Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB Group, said the group would further integrate its businesses such as transportation, automation and infrastructure to provide packaged solutions and services for customers both in China and globally, and especially those related to the Belt and Road Initiative, and it also enables the company to demonstrate the potential of Industry 4.0 on its own premises.
With $300 million of additional investment, the new hub is ABB's largest innovation and manufacturing hub worldwide. It gathered eight factories and employs 3,500 people－based on the $2.4 billion which ABB has already invested in China since 1992.
The hub will focus primarily on the development and manufacturing of products and solutions for its electrification product and power grids division.
Regarding ABB's latest move to build a new robotics factory in Shanghai, Spiesshofer said the new facility will produce robots that can be used in a wide range of sectors including food and beverages, chemicals, communication and consumer electronics product manufacturing, logistics, auto and services. It will also supply robots to global markets.
The factory has a designed annual production capacity of 100,000 industrial and service-function robots, around a quarter of the world's total production capacity in 2017. ABB's new manufacturing facility in Shanghai is expected to start production by the end of 2020.
The new factory－with a comprehensive research and development center onsite－will become a key part of ABB's global robotics supply system, together with the company's recently upgraded factory in Vasteras, Sweden, and its factory in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where ABB remains the only global robot supplier with a US manufacturing footprint, said Spiesshofer.
Claudio Facchin, president of ABB's power grids division, said as increasingly complex power grids pose higher requirement for digitalization and automation, digital technologies certainly can help better build smart grids and allow Chinese utility companies and power plants to become more intelligent, flexible and efficient for the future.
"Smart technologies will not only facilitate the transformation of traditional industries into highly innovative, high-end, high-quality business, but also enable China to develop clusters of strategic new industries," said Facchin. "It will create a complete, intelligent manufacturing value chain in the country."