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Volvo deploys 1,300 ABB robots for electric vehicle production

Swedish electric vehicle maker Volvo Cars is charging ahead on its sustainability mission, aided by an extensive robotics infusion from global leader ABB. This week the automaker revealed plans to deploy over 1,300 next-gen ABB robots assisting assembly operations at factories in Sweden and China. Beyond boosting productivity, the automation upgrade spearheads Volvo’s broader industrial transformation toward carbon-neutral manufacturing.

The new six-axis robotic arms represent ABB’s advanced IRB 67xx series, flaunting interchangeable links enabling easy reconfiguration for various applications. Rated for 150-310 kg payloads, the modular bots handle tasks from spot welding and riveting to dispensing and drilling across Volvo’s EV production.

Critically, ABB’s energy-efficient OmniCore controller platform accompanies the hardware, yielding projected energy savings up to 20% in the upgraded facilities. This neatly aligns with Volvo Cars’ sweeping mandate to slash its carbon footprint in half by 2025 en route to full climate neutrality by 2040. With transportation emitting nearly a third of greenhouse gases—the bulk from road vehicles—manufacturers play a pivotal role abating emissions.

Indeed, ABB’s broad automation repertoire is accelerating multiple automakers’ sustainability quests amid booming EV appetite. Its solutions maintain robust flexibility necessary adapting quickly to evolving vehicular designs, production workflows, and green objectives. This nimbleness helps car companies of all sizes rapidly scale output of zero-emission models to meet regulatory and consumer pressures.

In that sense, while 1,300 robots is no trivial deployment, the technology implications run deeper for Volvo. Integrating versatile automation builds foundations for responsively modifying and expanding manufacturing as market dynamics demand. And associating world-class partners like ABB with its operations signals the seriousness of Volvo’s environmental commitment to stakeholders worldwide.

The end-to-end value also goes beyond factories to the roads. Most analyses find EVs significantly greener than internal combustion vehicles over their full life cycles, but much depends on the carbon footprint of actually building them. As more automakers chase Tesla with ambitious electrification blueprints, advanced automation will play an essential role minimizing embodied emissions before vehicles ever leave the plant.

In that regard, Volvo’s robotics upgrade represents one piece of a profoundly complex industrial puzzle transitioning automotive manufacturing into the green age. The Swedish automaker’s broader plans encompass everything from renewable energy to circular components to next-gen paint technology to achieve comprehensive decarbonization. But thoughtful automation choices provide the flexible foundations necessary assembling these disparate solutions into a cohesive whole.

So while this week’s announcement centers on boosted productivity, its significance for Volvo’s climate crusade looms larger. Selling the green vehicles of the future requires making them greenly first. On the road to that ultimate destination, ABB’s robots offer one small step with milestones ahead.

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