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Making More Efficient Robots Using Engineering Expertise

More than 200,000 ABB robots are in use in industry worldwide. One of the main areas of future growth is China. In order to utilise these growth prospects, ABB Robotics has joined forces with companies whose global engineering competence can serve as a basis for development. Festo is one of these partners.

A ready-to-install solution for ABB Robotics: the Purge Air Kit from Festo creates an overpressure inside the robot arm and thus prevents dust particles from penetrating and impairing its function. (Photo: Festo AG & Co. KG)

As early as 2006, ABB had set up its global headquarters for robotics in Shanghai, China. At the very heart of the largest growth market on earth. Here, its 1,300 staff develop, produce and market robotic solutions for the automotive, consumer goods and electronics industries, for foundries and forges, for metal and plastics processing, for solar technology and electronics and for machining. 20,000 robots have been produced at the ABB Robotics Shanghai production base since 2005.

Advantages of automation
More and more customers in the above-named sectors named above want to focus on their core competencies. They therefore recognise the advantages of automation as it relieves them of so many tasks, and leads to higher productivity and greater efficiency, simplicity and reliability. ABB is also focusing on its key competencies in the further development of control technology for robotics and the assembly of complete robotic systems.

The company therefore relies on the comprehensive support for specific functions from its expert suppliers, which it selects very carefully. Relationships with these partners frequently extend back over decades.

Excellent Supplier Award
The closeness of the customer-supplier relationship between ABB Robotics and Festo was highlighted this year when Festo won the "Excellent Supplier Award" and thus became part of the group that represents the absolute pinnacle of some 1,500 suppliers. Festo received the award not just for the high quality of its automation products, but particularly for its solution expertise in engineering and thus the holistic support it provides to the value added chain of ABB.

The partnership with Festo started at local level between a number of international subsidiaries of ABB and Festo. Since 2005, an official agreement to cooperate globally has existed between Festo in Germany and China, and ABB in China. One excellent example of this cooperation at product and solution level is the Purge Air Kit, which is used predominantly in the robots on painting lines in automotive factories. The Purge Air Kit is a ready-to-install maintenance module with accessories such as sensors and tubing. It creates an overpressure inside the robot arm and thus prevents dust particles from penetrating and impairing its function.

Customised solution
When defining the requirements, ABB Robotics found itself faced with the dilemma that it could not source a standardised product on the market. It required a customised solution which the engineers at Festo were able to develop thanks to their skills in all matters of pneumatic maintenance devices and engineering. An additional requirement was that the ready-to-install module be PWIS-free.

For ABB, the in-depth product and engineering competence was important, as was the ability to cooperate with a global partner. In this case, the solution was the result of collaboration between Festo Norway and ABB Bryne in Norway. Today, Festo Norway continues to be the engineering partner for the product, even though it is used at ABB Robotics in China.

Consulting expertise
The cooperation between ABB and Festo, however, is not limited to products. ABB regards Festo as a partner along the entire value chain. This also includes the provision of services, tools and consulting services on such topics as, for example, energy saving. Festo is more than ready for this particular topic; with its Energy Saving Services, for example, experts from the manufacturer of pneumatic and electric automation technology are on hand to advise customers around the globe, and have the necessary tools to identify energy losses and, above all, to eliminate them. Festo is thus permanently ensuring lower energy consumption in machines and systems – around the world for global customers.



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