ABB predicts electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing will be one of the key trends that will change robotic automation in 2022

ABB, a leading global firm working that connects electrification, robotics, automation and motion for a more sustainable future, has announced the demand for robots is growing as companies look for new ways to enhance their productivity and competitiveness post-pandemic.

ABB has compiled a set of growth predictions looking at key trends driving demand for robots in the coming year, with electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing coming in at number one. The electric revolution is bringing wholesale changes for automotive manufacturing.

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Marc Segura, ABB’s Robotics Division President, said: “The pandemic accelerated far-reaching global mega trends – from labour shortages and supply chain uncertainty, to the individualised consumer and growing pressure to operate sustainably and resiliently – leading new businesses to look to robotic automation,

“As technology opens new opportunities for meeting customer demands, new trends will continue to emerge that will further drive demand in areas where robots have traditionally not been used.”  

With many countries restricting and phasing out the production of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles over the next decade, the race towards electric cars has accelerated.

Manufacturers and their supply chains must tackle the complexity of diversifying into electric vehicles alongside combustion engine vehicles, to meet varying regulatory frameworks governing EV adoption across the globe.

The speed and added flexibility needed will see new and established manufacturers move away from traditional linear manufacturing, towards modular, flexible production.

Segura said: “EV is not about a change only in the powertrain but a larger transformation to a digitised car. This transition will also see the growing uptake of robots in combination with other technologies, including Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR’s).

“This will enable manufacturers to optimise 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.”

Another major shift in the auto industry will see battery manufacturing brought closer to vehicle assembly. This will be  to meet sustainability and regional requirements which in most cases requires all-new facilities.

Other trends ABB predict for the year include the e-commerce boom continuing to accelerate, which leads to the growth of lighter, smaller robotic applications, enabling the expansion of automation into new areas of warehousing and distribution operations.

This boom has also been massive for distribution and delivery companies which in turn has increased demand for cleaner and zero-emissions vehicles, especially in inner city locations.

The trends outlined for 2022 by ABB are the latest chapter in the ongoing transformation of robotic automation which is seeing a rapid acceleration and adoption of robots across industry.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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