Auburn Hills expansion to create 72 jobs, cost taxpayers $450,000

A business expansion in Auburn Hills expects to create 72 new manufacturing jobs, fueled by a $450,000 taxpayer grant.

ABB, which self-describes as a “technology leader in electrification and automation,” will expand its existing North American robotics headquarters and manufacturing facility in Auburn Hills with a $20 million investment.

The highly automated facility is expected to be completed in November 2023, funded by a Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

“Our investment is a significant step in accelerating ABB Robotics’ global leadership in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge robotic solutions in the US, for the Americas,” ABB President of Robotics and Discrete Automation Sami Atiya said in a statement. “As the global mega trends of labor shortages, uncertainty, the near and reshoring of production, and a desire to operate more sustainably accelerate, more businesses are turning to automation to build resilience while improving efficiency and flexibility. Our expanded facility will help us to better serve customers in the US and across the Americas, giving them access to innovative automated solutions.”

The robotics headquarters and factory will benefit customers in the Americas, including in sectors of electric vehicles, healthcare, packaging and logistics.

An ABB Robotics’ survey of 1,610 executives in the U.S. and Europe in June 2022 reported increased demand for automation from 70% of U.S. businesses looking to bring production closer to home.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer welcomed the investment.

“ABB’s $20 million investment creating 72 jobs will build on our economic momentum and help us continue leading the future of robotics and automation,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Thanks to companies like ABB Robotics and the support of our local partners, we can keep bringing jobs and investment to every region of our state, revitalizing communities, and building an economy of the future.”

The Swedish-Swiss ABB Robotics moved into the 538,000 square foot building in 1993 and opened the manufacturing plant in 2015, becoming the first global industrial robotics company to fully commit to a North American robotics production footprint. The expansion will supporting the ABB Robotics Packaging & Logistics Headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.,and the Robotics Lifesciences and Healthcare Hub located at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas.

ABB already has a workforce of about 350 employees at Auburn Hills. Nationwide, ABB has more than 20,000 employees at 40+ sites.

“The expanded facility will feature the most advanced technology available, with AI-enabled robots and smart digital manufacturing systems supporting the production and manufacture of state-of-the-art customer solutions,” ABB United States Robotics Division President John Bubnikovich said in a statement. “Almost every aspect of the site will be upgraded to enrich our efforts to attract, retain and nurture the best automation talent, while creating a US manufacturing hub and headquarters befitting of a global leader in automation.”

ABB says it will manufacture next generation robots in the US, and that about 90% of robots delivered to customers in the US, Canada, Mexico and South America will soon be made in Auburn Hills.

The plant will use flexible, modular production cells that are digitally connected and networked, and served by intelligent autonomous mobile robots. AI-powered robotic systems will take on tasks such as screw driving, assembling and material handling.

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