ABB has undergone significant divesting but retains a broad portfolio of industrial technologies. I have two pieces of news that fit today’s trends. The exciting things right now in robotics is collaborative robots, called cobots. ABB has upgraded its products. I remember trying to sell drives for energy savings in the 90s, and no one cared that much. Now under the guise of sustainability, energy savings is hot.

ABB is expanding its collaborative robot (cobot) portfolio with the new GoFa and SWIFTI cobot families, offering higher payloads and speeds, to complement YuMi and Single Arm YuMi in ABB’s cobot line-up. These stronger, faster and more capable cobots will accelerate the company’s expansion in high-growth segments including electronics, healthcare, consumer goods, logistics and food and beverage, among others, meeting the growing demand for automation across multiple industries.  

GoFa and SWIFTI are intuitively designed so customers need not rely on in-house programming specialists. This will unlock industries that have low levels of automation, with customers able to operate their cobot within minutes of installation, straight out of the box, with no specialized training. 

“Our new cobot portfolio is the most diverse on the market, offering the potential to transform workplaces and help our customers achieve new levels of operational performance and growth.” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation Business Area.  “They are easy to use and configure and backed by our global network of on-call, on-line service experts to ensure that businesses of all sizes and new sectors of the economy, far beyond manufacturing, can embrace robots for the first time.” 

ABB’s cobot portfolio expansion is engineered to help existing and new robot users accelerate automation amid four key megatrends including individualized consumers, labor shortages, digitalization and uncertainty that are transforming business and driving automation into new sectors of the economy.  The expansion follows the Business Area’s focus on high-growth segments through portfolio innovation, helping to drive profitable growth.   

Cobots are designed to operate in the presence of workers without the need for physical safety measures such as fences and to be very easy to use and install. In 2019, more than 22,000 new collaborative robots were deployed globally, up 19 percent compared to the previous year. The demand for collaborative robots is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17 percent between 2020 and 2025 while the value of global cobot sales is expected to increase from an estimated ~$0.7 billion in 2019 to ~$1.4bn by 2025. The global market for all industrial robots is projected to grow from ~$45 billion in 2020 to ~$58 billion by 2023 (CAGR of 9 percent).

GoFa and SWIFTI are engineered to help businesses automate processes to assist workers with tasks including material handling, machine tending​, component assembly​ and packaging in manufacturing, medical laboratories, logistics hubs and warehouses, workshops, and small production facilities.

Users comfortable with operating a tablet or smartphone will be able to program and re-program the new cobots with ease, using ABB’s fast set-up tools. Customers will also benefit from ABB’s global industry and application expertise, which has been developed from installing more than 500,000 robot solutions since 1974 and supported by ABB’s network of over 1,000 global partners.

ABB urges greater adoption of high-efficiency motors and drives to combat climate change – global electricity consumption to be reduced by 10%

In a new whitepaper published this week, ABB reveals potential for significant energy efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure enabled by the latest and most high-efficiency motors and variable speed drives. ABB calls on governments and industry to accelerate adoption of the technology to help combat climate change.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), industry accounts for 37% of global energy use and some 30% of global energy is consumed in buildings.

While mostly hidden from public view, electric motors – and the variable speed drives which optimize their operation – are embedded in almost every built environment. They power a vast range of applications fundamental to our modern way of life, from industrial pumps, fans and conveyors for manufacturing and propulsion systems for transportation to compressors for electrical appliances and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings.

Motor and drive technologies have seen exceptionally rapid advancement in the past decade, with today’s innovative designs delivering remarkable energy efficiencies. However, a significant number of industrial electric motor-driven systems in operation today – in the region of 300 million globally – are inefficient or consume much more power than required, resulting in monumental energy wastage.

Independent research estimates that if these systems were replaced with optimized, high-efficiency equipment, the gains to be realized could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%. In turn, this would account for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 climate goals established by the Paris Agreement.

“Industrial energy efficiency, more than any other challenge, has the single greatest capacity for combatting the climate emergency.  It is essentially the world’s invisible climate solution.”, said Morten Wierod, President ABB Motion. “For ABB, sustainability is a key part of our company Purpose and of the value that we create for all of our stakeholders. By far the biggest impact we can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through our leading technologies, which reduce energy use in industry, buildings and transport.

Considerable steps have already been taken to support the uptake of electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. ABB believes it is time to do the same for an industrial technology that will deliver even greater benefits for the environment and the global economy.

To take advantage of the tremendous opportunities afforded by energy efficient drives and motors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ABB says all stakeholders have a critical role to play:

  • Public decision makers and government regulators need to incentivize their rapid adoption,
  • Businesses, cities, and countries need to be aware of both the cost savings and environmental advantages and be willing to make the investment, and
  • Investors need to reallocate capital towards companies better prepared to address the climate risk.

“While our role at ABB is to always provide the most efficient technologies, products and services to our customers, and continue to innovate for ever greater efficiency, that in itself is not enough. All stakeholders need to work together to bring about a holistic transformation in how we use energy. By acting and innovating together, we can keep critical services up and running while saving energy and combatting climate change”, concludes Morten Wierod.

ABB’s white paper “Achieving the Paris Agreement: The Vital Role of High-Efficiency Motors and Drives in Reducing Energy Consumption” can be downloaded here.

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