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ABB's OmniCore: the brain that will unify the future of industrial robotics

In the ever-evolving world of industrial automation, where robots have become the backbone of modern manufacturing, a new paradigm shift is underway. Today, ABB Robotics, a titan in the field with a legacy spanning half a century, unveiled its next-generation OmniCore platform—a technological leap that promises to unify and supercharge its entire automation line.



"For our customers, automation is no longer just an option; it's a strategic imperative," declared Sami Atiya, president of ABB's Robotics & Discrete Automation Business Area, at the launch event. His words reflect the urgency felt across industries grappling with global megatrends: labor shortages, economic uncertainty, and the pressing need for more sustainable operations.

Atiya's vision for the future of robotics extends beyond mere mechanical improvements. "Through our development of advanced mechatronics, AI, and vision systems, our robots are more accessible, more capable, more flexible, and more mobile than ever," he said. But the true revolution, he believes, lies in collaboration. "Increasingly, they must also work seamlessly together, with us, and each other to take on more tasks in more places."

Enter OmniCore, the culmination of ABB's 50-year journey in robotics. More than just a product launch, it represents a philosophical shift—a move toward a unified, singular intelligence that can govern an entire robotic ecosystem. "This is why we are launching OmniCore," Atiya explained, "a new milestone in our history; a unique, single control architecture—one platform, and one language that integrates our complete range of leading hardware and software."

The stakes couldn't be higher. Three out of four European companies struggle to find workers for critical roles like welding and fulfillment. In the U.S., a staggering 2.1 million manufacturing jobs are projected to remain unfilled by 2030. Against this backdrop, OmniCore emerges not just as a technological solution but as a lifeline for industries on the brink.

Representing an investment of over $170 million, OmniCore is no incremental upgrade. Marc Segura, division president of ABB Robotics, calls it "a step change to a modular and futureproof control architecture." This new platform is designed to fully integrate AI, sensor, cloud, and edge computing systems, creating what Segura describes as "the most advanced and autonomous robotic applications."

While OmniCore has been in ABB's arsenal since 2018, today marks its grand unveiling as the company's unified control platform. "Now we are in our pivotal moment," Segura told The Robot Report, "where we are launching it to cover almost our entire robotics portfolio."

The performance metrics are staggering. OmniCore delivers robot path accuracy to within 0.6 mm and can orchestrate multiple robots moving at speeds up to 1,600 mm per second—that's 3.5 mph. This precision and speed, honed through ABB's long history with demanding automotive clients, opens new frontiers in automation. From the delicate assembly of mobile phone displays to the intense heat of arc welding, no task seems beyond OmniCore's capabilities.

But speed and precision are just the beginning. Segura claims the updated platform enables robots to operate up to 25% faster while consuming 20% less energy than its predecessor. In an age where every kilowatt-hour counts, this dual advance in performance and sustainability is nothing short of remarkable.

OmniCore's impact extends far beyond traditional robotics sectors. Its modular, scalable architecture offers a vast array of functions, making it suited for industries just beginning to embrace automation, such as biotechnology and construction. With over 1,000 hardware and software features, it provides OEMs and end-users with unprecedented tools to design, operate, maintain, and optimize their operations.

"The OmniCore difference is its ability to manage motion, sensors, and application equipment in a single holistic unified system," Segura explained. "Our new, next-generation platform is more than a controller. It is the backbone of value creation, which includes a complete, integrated software ecosystem."

He cites tangible benefits: "For example, OmniCore enables automotive manufacturers to increase production speed, offering tremendous competitive advantage, increasing press-tending production from 12 to 15 strokes per minute to produce 900 parts per hour. Some of these applications are now available even as pre-integrated configurations, enabling our systems integrators to reduce commissioning times even further."

But perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of OmniCore is its vision for the future. Beyond controlling ABB's traditional industrial robots, it will soon manage the company's collaborative robots, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and mobile manipulators. This isn't just a control system; it's a unifying intelligence that will orchestrate an entire ecosystem of diverse robotic agents.

For existing ABB customers, the transition to this new era is designed to be smooth. Users of the IRC5 controller, which OmniCore replaces, need only make minimal re-engineering for connectivity, wiring, and user interface updates. Segura assures that all current sensors remain compatible, with OmniCore offering even more integration opportunities.

The launch of OmniCore comes at a critical juncture for global industry. As labor shortages loom and supply chains demand unprecedented resilience, the need for advanced, flexible automation has never been greater. Mitsubishi Electric's new platform, with its promise of simplicity, speed, and seamless integration, offers a beacon of hope.

In many ways, OmniCore embodies the evolution of industrial robotics itself. From the world's first microprocessor-controlled robot in 1974 to today's AI-driven, cloud-connected systems, ABB has been at the forefront. Now, as robots become more than just machines—becoming collaborators, problem-solvers, even decision-makers—the need for a unifying intelligence grows.

OmniCore is that intelligence. It's not just a brain for individual robots but a collective mind for an entire automated workforce. As it learns, adapts, and orchestrates, it promises to transform factories into harmonious symphonies of human and machine collaboration.

The future of manufacturing is here, and it speaks one language: OmniCore.

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