4 exciting happenings at ABB Robotics: a testament to a bright future
From the introduction of world’s first truly collaborative robot to one able to lift nearly a ton, 2015 was nothing short of fantastic for ABB Robotics.
Nearly, three years ago, I wrote my first blog for ABB Robotics. While rereading that post to prepare for this one, it was very clear to see how and why robotics fascinates and opens the mind to endless possibilities for an automated future. As a newbie with the business unit, all the events I attended and the robots and technology I saw back then clearly struck me as nothing short of futuristic and out of this world. It is very fair to say my writing reflected that fact. Often times I found myself searching for the words to describe all that robots and robotic automation has to offer.
Today, as I begin the process of wrapping up my work for the year and get ready to take that proverbial long winter’s nap, it struck me that not much about my childlike fascination with robots has changed. True, I understand the robotics industry much more, but more importantly it is crystal clear to me now why Simplification, Collaboration and Integrated Solutions best describe how robotic automation has and will continue to develop over the next few years. Just as 2013 though, 2015 has been nothing short of fantastic to me. Four things come to my mind immediately:
First, and certainly the most unforgettable event occurred in April, when we gave the world YuMi®, the world’s first truly collaborative robot. The much anticipated market introduction of our dual-armed robot solution at Hannover Fair 2015 was an incredible success. With major media outlets around the world picking up on the paradigm-changing nature of this innovative product for collaborative human-machine assembly, we have been extremely busy ever since responding to questions from reporters and customers alike. Quite the celebrity, YuMi was even visited by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who both had the chance to personally interact with YuMi and learn how easy it is to program and what makes it special.
The following month, May, ABB Robotics cut the ribbon its new factory floor in the Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. The site joins Shanghai, China, and Västeras, Sweden, as one of ABB Robotics’ major global production locations for robots and related equipment. The first industrial robot supplier to do so, it is reaffirms our commitment to an American manufacturing footprint. In the next 12 months, as part of the phased start-up, the US factory will start to assemble mechanical arms as well.
November saw the introduction of ABB’s largest robot EVER, the IRB 8700. Capably of lifting an entire car body, or 1,000 kg (that’s a ton!) with its wrist down, this robot was introduced to the market at a spectacular event in Shanghai, China. With this robot, ABB Robotics applied decades of engineering experience to combine the high performance customers require with low overall maintenance needs. In addition, the IRB 8700 delivers 25% faster speeds than any other robot in its class size.
If you were unable to be in China, we prepared this short video of the market introduction
Closing out this exciting year was iRex, the International Robotics Exhibition (iREX) in Tokyo, Japan – the world’s largest robotics trade fair. During the show we provided visitors with a sneak peek at our next collaborative robot. A member of the YuMi family, this robot solution is capable of handling larger payloads and targets different markets. Like YuMi, visitors to our booth were captivated by it. The area around the robot was at times five to 10 people deep. My colleagues estimated that more than 2,300 people — a 180% increase over 2013 (we must be doing something right) — stopped by to see it.
iRex was also where we delivered our first ever Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm (SCARA), or IRB 910SC. This single arm robot is capable of operating in a confined footprint and is ideal for the Small Parts Assembly, Material Handling and parts inspection.
I would like to applaud our Japanese colleagues who maximized our booth space and highlighted numerous aspects of ABB’s robotics portfolio. In addition to our collaborative robots, ABB demonstrated Remote Service, RobotStudio® and Picking, Packing and Palletizing.