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ABB secures agreement to supply robot automation to A123 Systems for advanced battery applications

ABB Robotics, a leading supplier of industrial robots, has reached an agreement with A123 Systems to provide robotic automation systems for the assembly and manufacturing of lithium-ion battery modules and packs. A123 Systems, headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, develops, manufactures and supplies high-power lithium ion batteries designed to deliver a new combination of power, safety and life.

A123 Systems selected ABB to design and build the automation systems based on ABB’s overall company strength, ongoing involvement in advanced battery applications in the power industry, and widespread global presence. Additional factors include ABB’s advanced Force Control assembly technology, laser welding expertise and leadership in robotic innovation and technology.

The order will include 15 total robots, including the IRB 360 FlexPicker™ robot, the second generation of ABB’s industry pioneering, high speed pick and place delta robot, and four additional robot models (IRBs 1600, 2400, 4400 and 6640). Additional elements of the system include TrueView™, ABB's proprietary Vision Guided Robotics (VGR) System that simplifies programming and helps customers achieve new levels of manufacturing efficiency and profitability; and Force Control, which allows the robot to quickly and accurately adapt its force based on the surface contour and consistency of the materials and component parts being processed.

"We are indeed pleased to receive this order from A123. This order is a major step in ABB’s vision to become the leading robotic supplier to the emerging electrified drivetrain market and is a confirmation that our products and process know-how are very well suited to provide manufacturing solutions for more energy-efficient vehicles," said Michael Larsson, global head of Powertrain Automation, ABB Robotics.

Ultimately the technology will reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and reduce the collective carbon footprint of battery assembly and manufacturing. Design of this system will commence in February 2010, and the order should be shipped to A123 Systems by August 30, 2010. ”We are extremely excited to have been selected by A123 Systems to participate in such an important emerging technology,” said Tom Stroin, vice president robot automation, ABB Robotics, North America. I want to personally thank the ABB Auburn Hills team that worked diligently for nine months to put this in place.”

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