Robots will make robots at an innovative $150 million (CHF150 million) ABB factory to be built in China, the Swiss engineering group announced on Saturday.
The move is designed to defend the company’s place as the country's largest maker of industrial robots.
The factory, to be located near ABB'external links China robotics campus, is due to be operating by the end of 2020. It is billed as a “cutting edge centre where robots make robots” and will produce products for China as well as for export elsewhere in Asia
China is ABB's number two market after the United States.
"Shanghai has become a vital centre for advanced technology leadership – for ABB and the world," ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statementexternal link announcing the project.
With the expansion, ABB is banking on Chinese robots sales defying concerns over trade tensions with the United States that some fear could dent demand for electronics, auto parts and other items that require automated manufacturing and robots.
China is expanding its robot workforce, as wages for human workers there rise and the country seeks to compete with lower-cost countries via greater automation. In 2017, one of every three robots sold in the world went to China, which purchased nearly 138,000 units, ABB said
ABB, whose industrial robots are used, among other things, to build automobiles as well as to assemble electronic devices, will build robots for numerous industries at the Shanghai factory, a spokesman told Reuters.
It did not give a new employee count for the factory but said it would boost robotics employment that currently accounts for around 2,000 ABB workers in China.
The company added that overall it had invested $2.4 billion in China since 1992 and that it now employed over 18,000 people there.