Listen to this article
ABB announced that it entered into a strategic partnership with Scalable Robotics to enhance its portfolio of user-friendly robotic welding systems. Scalable Robotics offers a point-and-click solution for industrial robots that will allow users to easily program welding robots without any coding.
As part of the partnership, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), the venture capital unit of ABB, will be the lead investor in Scalable’s seed funding round, although ABB did not disclose the level or terms of the investment.
“Businesses are looking to robotics to help build resilience, flexibility and efficiency in the face of global challenges including labor shortages, disrupted supply chains and uncertainty,” Marc Segura, the President of the Robotics Division at ABB, said. “In the US alone, it is estimated there will be a shortage of 400,000 welders by 2024. To tackle this, we need to aid the adoption of robots by providing technology that is simple to use and easy to program, enabling manufacturers to easily introduce automated solutions that can weld more parts in less time while minimizing scrap and maximizing quality.”
Scalable’s technology will enhance ABB’s existing portfolio of no-code programming applications. Scalable’s welding platform allows a welder to teach a robot a task by simply pointing to where the weld should be applied and allowing it to learn the path on its own.
The welder clicks a handheld stylus to indicate the desired approach, path and departure points of the weld. The platform then automatically generates a weld path that Robot Studio, ABB’s leading simulation and programming software, validates. The operator can then make any final changes before the robot auto-tunes the program and sends it to the robot controller so that the weld can be performed.
The platform includes a 3D camera in a protective box that is attached to the robot’s end-of-arm tooling and a touchscreen interface guiding the welder through the scan, teach, validate and tuning steps.
“We founded Scalable Robotics on the premise that industrial robots are tools that should be available to enterprises of all sizes and levels of technical sophistication,” Tom Fuhlbrigge, Founder and CEO of Scalable Robotics, said. “Our novel human-robot interaction techniques enable people who know the arc welding process to intuitively show the robot what needs to be done with no robot experience required We are very excited to join forces with ABB – they are the ideal partner to help bring this technology to the market on a global scale.”
ABB recently launched its first range of rebranded autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) following its acquisition of mobile robot leader ASTI Mobile Robotics in 2021 for $190M. ASTI Mobile Robotics’ solutions are now rebranded and integrated into ABB’s portfolio, grouped under the Flexley name, indicating the flexibility of operations that the AMRs offer.