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ABB Robotics on the Cutting Edge

Charli's Blog
ABB Customer Days Photo

ABB Robotics on the Cutting Edge

Last month I had the privilege of attending the 2015 Americas Customer Days and Open House at ABB Robotics in Auburn ABB Customer Days PhotoHills, Michigan. ABB is a global provider of cutting edge power and automation technologies, as well as a top supplier of industrial robots, modular manufacturing systems, and services. They remain at the forefront of technology by always innovating, and to date over 250,000 of their robots have been installed across the globe.

The event was held at their headquarters and training center and showcased over 55 live robotic and related demonstrations, in addition to 53 technical training seminars targeted towards everyone from the robot aficionado to those considering adding robotic automation to their operation.

Benefits of Robotics 

I found it impressing and admirable that ABB is using new robotics technology to make their employee’s jobs easier, rather than opting to replace humans with robots. Instead of focusing on reducing employee rosters and increasing the bottom line, the robots allow for small changes that keep workers safer and happier. For example, robotics were installed in a facility where they were used for heavy lifting and other dangerous procedures. The facility is still run by the workers, but they are not in harm’s way when conducting these operations.

The World’s First Collaborative Dual Arm Robot

A huge stepping stone in the world of robotics, ABB gave a demonstration of YuMi, their newest technological advance in the field. It features flexible hands, parts feeding systems, camera-based part location, and state-of-the-art robot controls. YuMi is designed for complex tasks, such as small parts assembly and is built to work side by side with its human operator.

Tasks that can be performed by YuMi:YuMi robot

  • Assembly
  • Automotive and transportation
  • Cutting and welding
  • Machine tending
  • Material handling
  • Packaging
  • Painting
  • Press automation
  • Training and service

You can view a video on YuMi here.

Coming to America

While ABB has sold $7.5 billion worth of products in the U.S., its robots have been produced overseas in Shanghai, China, and Västerås, Sweden. However, all this changed in May 2015 when they announced that they will immediately begin producing their line of robots in the United States.

The new robotics plant is located in Auburn Hills, MI, and adds to ABB’s impressive record of going from 11,500 American employees in 2010 to 26,300 and counting. The products manufactured at this new facility will be expanded in phases, with the hope that every robot and controller delivered in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will come from the Auburn Hills facility.

Giving Back to the Community

I love to see a large corporation use any of its resources (people, technology, equipment, etc.) to enrich or improve the lives of the people who live in the communities around them. ABB has designed a college curriculum featuring robotics equipment technology and maintenance in order to help a nearby school, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. The university wanted to combine a degree in mechanical engineering with that of an electrical engineer. With the assistance of ABB, three courses in robotics technology, programming, and maintenance were introduced, and ABB even provided equipment for a robotics lab. Not only does this prepare students for a career in electronics, it prepares them to work at one of ABB’s robotics facilities. With a shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing sector in the United States, the program makes this career path seam exciting and appealing, as well as preparing students for a career using the latest manufacturing technology.

More on ABB

ABB operates in approximately 100 countries throughout the world and has invested more than $10 billion in local research and development, capital expenditure, and acquisitions. The ABB Group of companies employs about 140,000 people worldwide, and the Robotics Business Unit provides all levels of support including software, peripheral equipment, modular manufacturing cells and service for many common industrial tasks.

For more on ABB, visit their site.

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