How ABB is using robots to recycle robots, making manufacturing more sustainable
ABB aims to create more environmentally friendly manufacturing facilities across the world by enabling existing robot users to sell inactive or legacy robots to ABB with a buy back service, rather than scrapping them or leaving them unused.
Over the last 25 years, thousands of robots have been refurbished and upgraded by ABB's remanufactured robot teams, to give them a second life. As well as previously owned robots, peripheral equipment such as controllers and manipulators are refurbished to "like-new" conditions at one of ABB's Global Remanufacture & Workshop Repair Centers.
"Environmental responsibility is critical for us, for our customers and for our partners. We support sustainability solutions throughout the robot lifecycle, whether through digital tools that improve quality or reduce waste in a process, to extending the service of old robots through remanufacturing and upgrading," said Sami Atiya, President of ABB's Robotics and Discrete Automation business area. "Our network of global remanufacturing centers upgrades old robots, so they don't have to be scrapped, as part of our long-term commitment to create more sustainable manufacturing across the world."
Before being labelled as an ABB-certified remanufactured robot, every second-hand unit undergoes rigorous checks, including a detailed inspection and a minimum 16-hour functioning test. Each remanufactured robot comes with a two-year warranty and comes with the same level of support from local service teams as they would with the purchase of a new ABB robot.
"We not only fix faulty parts, we completely remanufacture our robots using original ABB design plans, specifications and dimensional data. This guarantees that the robots offer the same levels of quality, performance, durability and safety as a new ABB robot," said Jan Borsky, Sales Manager of ABB's Global Remanufacture & Workshop Repair Centers. "We have one of the largest inventories of pre-owned and reconditioned robots across the world, with 400 robots of various types in stock for sale, and currently the demand for refurbished robots is so high that we have more than one robot leaving our Ostrava facility every working day."
Each remanufactured robot can also be upgraded to the latest controller, which unlocks new functionalities such as ABB Ability Connected services or the latest version of RobotStudio, ABB's simulation and offline programming software. Upgrades can also unlock the potential of collaborative robotics, with ABB's SafeMove software providing businesses with the opportunity to enable robots to work alongside operators without the need for extensive guarding, which helps to cut both the cost of an installation and the overall footprint, ideal for locations where space is at a premium.
"Customers across the world are benefiting from giving old robots a new lease of life. Updating their robots with the latest technologies has helped boost flexibility and productivity, and by extending the lifetime of their robots, has helped maximize their return on investment," added Jan Borsky. "We've also helped existing robot customers who wanted to add additional robots to their existing production line but found that the specific model they needed had been discontinued. We sourced and installed a remanufactured model, so the business could continue to benefit from long-term efficiencies in maintenance, spare parts and staff training."