ABB: Building Robots and the US Economy

In what still feels to many like a tentative U.S. manufacturing recovery, there was plenty of rejoicing in Auburn Hills, Mich., as ABB (IW 1000/107) opened a new robotics factory. ABB company brass were joined at the opening ceremony on May 20 by a host of local and state government officials, U.S. and Swiss ambassadors, a deputy secretary at the Commerce Department and many others.

ABB leaders stressed that the company, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, was committed to investing in the United States.

“ABB is the first global automation company to open a robot manufacturing facility in the United States,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spieshoffer. “Robotics is a fundamental enabler of the next level of North American industrial growth in an increasingly competitive world.”

Robotics manufacturing represents just the type of advanced manufacturing that the Obama administration has been promoting as a key to U.S. competitiveness and the creation of good jobs. The new plant, which has started initial production with robot cabinets but will phase in more complete assembly of ABB robots over time, eventually will ship products throughout the U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico.

One reason ABB located the plant in Auburn Hills, of course, is to serve the automotive industry, a key market for robotics. Axel Barnekow-Widmark, the plant manager, said the location will cut delivery times for U.S. customers from 15 weeks to 6 weeks. And it will mean not just 300 new ABB jobs eventually, but also increased work for local suppliers as ABB builds sourcing in the U.S.

This slideshow offers a look at the new production facility and at the investment ABB is making in the U.S. economy.

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