ABB launches new robots for EV makers

by Shahkar Abidi 04 Apr 2022


In its attempt to make shopfloors of electric vehicle manufacturers even more  automated, ABB has added a couple of  new robot families to its portfolio for the segment.

Robots from ABB  are already a part of the the Ola mega factory which has deployed sustainable robotics solutions like pixel paint technology optimizing paint applications to reduce emissions and enhance productivity.

Subrata Karmakar, President and  Head of Robotics & Discrete Automation Business at ABB India in an email response to Autocar Professional said that the new robots codenamed as IRB 5710 and 5720 come in eight variants and provide options for payloads from 70 kg to 180kg and a reach from 2.3 to 3 metres. These find a range of applications in  production tasks for EVs including  material handling, machine tending and assembly as well as specific operations in EV manufacturing that include battery module picking and placing, high precision assembly, and parts handling . Further, it also comes handy for use in plastic moulding, metal casting, cleaning, and spraying applications in the EV industry, he said.

According to Karmakar, EV designs can often be highly complex, and components such as batteries and semiconductor modules can be very heavy or extremely fragile. "The robots are used  to assemble battery modules in an array to produce battery packs and battery pack handling applications," Karmakar said emphasizing that these machines  are primarily used to feed, stack, place and inspect the battery modules including screwing applications.

"All these applications require extensive use of a vision system to ensure perfection of the product.  Battery trays that contain the battery modules are also made with the help of robots incorporating the processes such as CMT welding, friction stir welding and gluing" he continued.  

Within the automotive sector, ABB had recently also locally commissioned a  fully robotic and automated line installation of an auto major with remote monitoring of body diagnostics using holo-lens. Further, a  virtual factory acceptance test (FAT) and holo-lens guided installation for remote troubleshooting was conducted by the robotics business for a French global automotive supplier.

ABB’s modular solutions seamlessly integrate relevant technologies and already deliver improved performance in key areas: item picking, palletizing, depalletizing, repalletizing, robotic storage and retrieval systems, and singulation and sortation, the company  executive added. Also,  ABB   partnered with Audi India to provide charging solutions for its  fully electric Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback.

Almost 50 percent of ABB's total revenues for its robotic business  come from high growth segments such as automotive, though other sectors such as healthcare, food and beverage, electronics and logistics are fast catching up in recent years, the company officials said. As on December 31, 2021, ABB India is said to have a  strong order backlog of close to Rs  4,912 crore, including automotive, offering an indication of the developments happening inside India's rapidly evolving auto sector.  "This will enable manufacturers to optimize the delivery of components across facilities and enable integrated scalable, modular production cells –methods traditionally associated with e-commerce and consumer goods, but now required in automotive to ensure the necessary flexibility to meet varying levels of demand." he further explained. 

The development comes even as India's auto industry is looking to improve adoption of robotics and automation as part of Industry 4.0 process. Currently, the robot density in India in the automotive industry is 184 robots per 10,000 employees as compared to the global average of 957. On the global level, says the International Federation of Robotics, the  robotics market is expected to reach $74.1 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 17.45 percent from just around USD 27.73 billion in 2020.