ABB, based in Zürich, Switzerland, has strengthened its commitment to one of its largest customer markets — the U.S. — with construction starting on the expansion of its existing North American robotics headquarters and manufacturing facility in Auburn Hills.
The project is expected to be completed in November 2023 and represents an investment of $20 million. The expansion will create 72 highly skilled new jobs in the area and is supported by a $450,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.
“Our investment is a significant step in accelerating ABB Robotics’ global leadership in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge robotic solutions in the U.S. for the Americas,” says Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation. “As the global mega-trends of labor shortages, uncertainty, the near- and reshoring of production, and a desire to operate more sustainably accelerate, more businesses are turning to automation to build resilience while improving efficiency and flexibility.
“Our expanded facility will help us to better serve customers in the U.S. and across the Americas, giving them access to innovative automated solutions.”
Adding to the $14 billion ABB has already invested in the U.S. since 2010, the latest investment in its robotics headquarters and factory will benefit customers in the Americas, particularly those in growth sectors such as electric vehicles, health care, packaging, and logistics.
With the expansion set to significantly increase the factory’s production capacity, it responds to the increased demand for automation from the 70 percent of U.S. businesses looking to bring production closer to home, as revealed by ABB Robotics’ survey of 1,610 executives in the U.S. and Europe in June 2022.
ABB Robotics moved into the 538,000-square-foot building in 1993 and opened the manufacturing plant in 2015. The expansion and increased use of automation in the factory will create new jobs, supporting the ABB Robotics packaging and logistics headquarters in Atlanta and the robotics life sciences and health care hub located at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
ABB already has a workforce of approximately 350 employees in Auburn Hills. ABB’s footprint in the U.S. includes more than 20,000 employees across 40-plus sites nationally.
“The expanded facility will feature the most advanced technology available, with AI-enabled robots and smart digital manufacturing systems supporting the production and manufacture of state-of-the-art customer solutions,” says John Bubnikovich, ABB Robotics U.S. division president. “Almost every aspect of the site will be upgraded to enrich our efforts to attract, retain, and nurture the best automation talent while creating a U.S. manufacturing hub and headquarters befitting of a global leader in automation.”
This investment will see new digital and automation technologies implemented to manufacture next-generation robots in the U.S. for the Americas, streamlining the delivery process and reducing lead times. Close to 90 percent of robots delivered to customers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America will soon be made in Auburn Hills.
The plant will utilize flexible, modular production cells that are digitally connected and networked and served by intelligent autonomous mobile robots. AI-powered robotic systems will take on tasks such as screwdriving, assembling, and material handling, freeing up workers to complete other tasks.