Swiss automation giant ABB reportedly intends to become the world's largest provider of industrial robots with a significant expansion in China.
Chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer, who continues to oversee a multi-year restructuring plan, told Bloomberg last week that the company plans to double both its robot production capacity and its robotics research workforce in the country.
China, in attempt to modernize its manufacturing sector, added 90,000 industrial robots last year alone — good for one-third of the total added worldwide — and forecasts show that 160,000 will be added in 2019.
Although the government wants Chinese producers to account for half that market by 2020, ABB touted its efforts with local partners and said that 80 percent of the robots it sells in China are developed, produced and shipped domestically.
The company is also working with local governments to develop pilot projects for electric vehicle charging stations and believes it can eventually lead the country in e-mobility. China, which is formulating a strategy to phase out combustion engines in cars, will reportedly add up to 800,000 charging stations this year alone.
The restructuring effort came amid investor pressure to break up ABB, but Spiesshofer believes the new investments will bolster its robotics and electrification products divisions, which accounted for 23 percent and 29 percent, respectively, of the company's total revenue.
“Today we have a crisp, clear identity. We know for what we stand,” Spiesshofer told Bloomberg.