ABB lab launches in Shanghai as robot titan eyes expansion into healthcare

This news came as China is wrestling with a series of obstacles to elevate the levels of automation within its medical facilities.

World industrial robot titan ABB launched its ABB Robotics Open Innovation Lab for Life Science and Healthcare on October 27 in Shanghai, making a huge step toward applying its robots en masse in areas like hospital and pharmacy to enhance efficiency.

At the opening ceremony, the lab was unveiled to great fanfare, with dignitaries such as Mark Segura, President of ABB Robotics, and a vice district governor of Pudong, where the ABB lab is located.

The continued development of industrial robotics and AI has provided more opportunities for the automation of life science and healthcare industries, said Segura at the ceremony.

He added that based on ABB’s experience of over 50 years in automation, the new innovation lab in Shanghai will help local businesses meet global challenges like a labor shortage and rising energy costs.

As the Swiss conglomerate’s first such innovation lab set up in Asia, the new facility is located in Zhangjiang’s AI Robot Valley, a cluster of local and foreign robotic firms.

According to an ABB statement, this lab will integrate into the corporation’s global R&D network, together with a healthcare hub at the Texas Medical Center innovation campus in Houston, Texas, as well as another R&D center in Frankfurt.

The expected wider deployment of ABB’s equipment to Chinese hospitals and drugstores is set to give a leg up to the digitalization of China’s healthcare system.

Currently, its robots already are in place at some medical facilities in Shanghai, such as its No.7 People’s Hospital.

A smart, unmanned pharmacy at the hospital is staffed by a group of ABB robots, which can sort 720 drugs in an hour, freeing employees from a dreary and uninspired daily drudgery.

ABB believes this represents a key area where its technologies can empower the upgrade of the local life science and healthcare scene.

This news came as China is wrestling with a series of obstacles to elevate the levels of automation within its medical facilities.

Low levels of automation

“Generally speaking, the percentage of automation in healthcare is low now, while demand for such applications keeps climbing, Wang Tong, director of marketing and sales of ABB Engineering, was quoted as saying in local media.

He claimed that raising the level of automation is not enough in the eyes of the ABB management. Instead, its focus is on empowering more applications.

By establishing an innovation lab, ABB hopes to form partnerships and meet the needs of more healthcare service providers accordingly.

“By combining our respective industrial advantages and developing new solutions, we will join hands to inject new vigor into life science and healthcare,” he noted.

The new ABB lab is the latest in a string of efforts by the multinational firm to bolster its presence in China.

Its gigafactory, with an investment of US$150 million and sitting on 67,000 sqm of land, became operational at the end of last year in Pudong. It is so far the company’s largest robotics R&D, manufacturing and application base across the globe, ABB says.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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