Zurich, Switzerland — Mar. 20, 2002 — ABB sold its 100,000th robot last week, becoming the first company in the world to reach this milestone.
“This is a big milestone for us as a company and sends a strong signal to our competitors,” said Jouko Karvinen, executive vice-president and head of ABB’s automation technology products division. “We are the world’s first company to sell this many robots. It also means we have the largest installed base of robots globally.”
ABB produced its first robot in 1974. At that time, the company’s robots were mainly used for machine tending and material handling. Nearly 30 years later, that market accounts for some 30% of robots sold worldwide. According to the International Federation of Robotics, welding, particularly in the automotive industry, is today’s largest robot application.
“In the mid-1980s we rounded out our portfolio of robots, adding special painting robots, again geared to the automotive industry. We worked to innovate with software specific applications,” said Karvinen.
ABB’s robotics team, working in locations like Sweden, Norway, the United States, Germany and Japan, has in recent years broadened its range of robots. Among many other applications, ABB robots pick chocolates for companies like Lindt and Nestle, and sort pills for pharmaceutical giants like Novartis and Bayer. American-based consumer goods companies such as Harley-Davidson use ABB robots for building and painting motorcycles and the U.S. postal service uses ABB robots to sort mail and packages.
By Bill Roebuck, Editor