ABB was an early leader in fixed industrial robots and is still one of the industry leaders. The area of mobile robots has been growing with uses expanding as quickly as engineer’s imaginations. This news is the acquisition of ASTI Mobile Robotics Group by ABB adding a jump start into this market segment. Here are the key bullet points:

  • ASTI is global leader in high growth Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) market with broad portfolio of vehicles and software 
  • Acquisition adds to Robotics and Machine Automation solutions to deliver unique automation portfolio, further expanding into new industry segments
  • AMR business will be headquartered in Burgos, Spain and led by Veronica Pascual Boé, ASTI CEO. New Asia AMR hub, including full value chain and manufacturing, to open at ABB Robotics factory in Shanghai

The market intelligence firm Interact Analysis sent this comment from Ash Sharma, Managing Director:

  • “ABB is the 3rd largest vendor of industrial (fixed) robots in the world but until now (like most other industrial robot vendors) had no play in mobile robotics”
  • “The move to acquire a mobile robot vendor is not surprising as major customers are rapidly adopting mobile robotics to augment their production line automation. Flexible manufacturing necessitates the use of mobile robots for material flow”
  • “This mirrors the move made by Omron which acquired mobile robot vendor Adept back in 2015 and successfully created an integrated offering to vendors of both mobile and fixed robotics”
  • “ASTI has enjoyed >25% growth in recent years and is now ranked as the 4th largest vendor of mobile robots in Europe by revenue”
  • “Mobile robots used in manufacturing environments are forecast to generate more than $13bn in cumulative revenue in the next 4 years”

Following is the news announcement:

ABB announced it will acquire ASTI Mobile Robotics Group (ASTI). This will expand ABB’s robotics and automation offering, making it the only company to offer a complete portfolio for the next generation of flexible automation.

The acquisition, a key part of ABB’s external growth strategy, was signed on July 19 and is expected to close in mid-summer 2021. Both parties agreed not to disclose any details regarding the purchase price.

Founded in 1982, ASTI is headquartered in Burgos, Spain and employs over 300 people in Spain, France and Germany. It is majority owned by Veronica Pascual Boé, who is also CEO. Other shareholders include European Growth Buyout investor Keensight Capital. Today it supports one of Europe’s largest installed fleets of AMRs and has a broad customer base in automotive, logistics, food & beverage and pharmaceuticals in 20 countries. Since 2015, the company has enjoyed close to 30 percent growth on an annual basis and is targeting approximately $50 million in revenue in 2021.

AMRs will support a degree of flexibility, from production, logistics, intralogistics and fulfillment through to retail and healthcare environments. This will enable ABB’s and ASTI’s common vision to help customers replace today’s linear production lines with fully flexible networks, where intelligent AMRs autonomously navigate materials, parts and finished products between smart connected workstations, in factories, logistics centers, laboratories, shops or hospitals.

These will be integrated with ABB’s portfolio of robots, machine automation, modular solutions and software suite including RobotStudio, ABB Robotics’ simulation and programming tool, creating a unique and comprehensive automation portfolio for ABB’s customers.

ASTI’s headquarters in Burgos, Spain will become ABB’s AMR business headquarters, led by Pascual Boé, with core functions, including R&D, engineering, product and project value chain, continuing at ASTI’s facilities. ABB will significantly expand production capacity at the AMR business headquarters to support the planned sales expansion in Europe and the Americas. To facilitate the growth potential for AMRs in China and Asia, ABB will also establish an Asia AMR hub, including full value chain and manufacturing, at its new robotics factory, which will open in Shanghai in 2022. China, the world’s largest robotics market, is projected to account for $1.8 billion of AMR sales annually by 2025.

ABB Robotics’ acquisition comes shortly after the company’s announcements to expand robotics automation for new sectors and first-time users, including the launch of its new GoFa and SWIFTI collaborative robot families and its announcement that it will advance automation in the construction industry.

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