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ABB moves robotics HQ to Shanghai

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-05 07:03
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SHANGHAI: Switzerland-based ABB Group announced yesterday it will officially move its global robotics business headquarters from Detroit, Michigan to Shanghai.

The world-leading power and automation technology supplier, which introduced the industrial robot, said it is committed to helping Chinese manufacturers improve quality and productivity.

"China is becoming a major manufacturing base for the world," said Fred Kindle, ABB Group's chief executive officer. "I am very pleased to see that the Chinese Government has stressed the development of robotics in its 11th Five-Year Plan. Therefore, increasing the level of automation with industrial robots is a key to improving China's competitiveness."

Manufacturing has been a pillar supporting China's rapid economic growth in the recent decade. More and more Chinese companies are becoming global manufacturing contractors, and an increasing number of domestic consumers have matured and are demanding top-quality products.

"Robots could offer them an effective way to raise quality and reduce cost in front of intense competition," said Kindle.

Anders Jonsson, ABB's executive vice-president and head of Robotics Division, said the booming Chinese automotive industry was also a reason for ABB to move its global headquarters to Shanghai, the commercial hub of the world's fastest-growing major economy.

"The automotive industry remains the largest consumer of our robotics business," said Jonsson. "While many of our clients in China are still international companies such as GM, Honda and Volkswagen, we are forming more and more partnerships with Chinese enterprises as they realize that the key to keep winning in the future is solid competitive strength."

According to the company, one of China's eye-catching domestic automakers Geely has been using ABB's robots in its production line.

The robotics division, one of ABB's five core businesses, contributed US$1.7 billion to the group's total sales of US$22.4 billion in 2005.

ABB has sold more than 3,000 robots in China, with the largest market share among international robot suppliers. Its current production capacity in China is more than 1,000 units annually. Unlike its singular growth rate outside the nation, ABB's robotics has won a double-digit increase in China.

"We plan to continue expanding our activities in China," added Jonsson. "Supported by the efforts of our local competence centres, we will develop and produce quality ABB robots both for local consumption and export markets."

ABB is known in China as an "early bird," being among the first Western companies to start doing business in China, establishing an investment holding company in Beijing in 1995.

"And as far as I know, ABB is also the first foreign leading enterprise to set up its global business headquarters in China, at least in this industry," Liu Wenhui, vice-president of ABB China, told China Daily.

(China Daily 04/05/2006 page10)