Acquisition Helps ABB's Push Into Collaborative Robots

April 15, 2015
At Hannover Messe this week, ABB followed its introduction of a collaborative robot with an announcement about acquiring Germany’s Gomtec, whose technology will strengthen capabilities in the field further.

Collaborative robots—those that can work alongside humans without the need for protective fencing, light curtains or other barriers—are one of the hottest areas of interest in the field, with new standards and innovations leading the way for use by big and small manufacturers alike.

Following on the announcement this week of its dual-arm robot YuMi, power and automation giant ABB is making a further push into the collaborative robotics space with the acquisition of Gomtec. The small, privately held German company makes a technology platform that will strengthen ABB’s development of collaborative robots.

With the help of Gomtec’s mechatronic systems that combine mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering, ABB aims to expand robotics into new applications. The YuMi robot, announced at Hannover Messe in Germany this week, is geared toward expanding automation in small-parts assembly.

“We are seeing an increasing trend of automation innovation where humans and robots work side-by-side in ways that weren’t possible before,” said Pekka Tiitinen, president of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division. “The addition of Gomtec to our robotics offering will help accelerate ABB’s expansion into new markets as well as our penetration of traditional industries as manufacturers pursue new ways to increase flexibility, agility and competitiveness.”

ABB and Gomtec will work together to drive new technologies in human-robot collaboration. “We have found the best partner for the next step in our journey,” said Bernd Gombert, Gomtec’s CEO. “ABB’s global reach and broad installed base, coupled with its world-class operations, will help us bring innovative robots and solutions to the rapidly growing market for collaborative automation.”

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the transaction.

For a broader look at what industry is doing to develop and use collaborative robots, read Terry Costlow’s feature article, "Robots Start Getting Personal," in the May issue of Automation World.

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