ABB to buy Spanish autonomous robotics group

July 21, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
ABB to buy Spanish autonomous robotics group
ABB is to acquire ASTI Mobile Robotics Group for its Autonomous Mobile Robot (AR) technology and set up a hub in China

Swedish engineering giant ABB is to buy ASTI Mobile Robotics Group (ASTI) in Spain, the global leader in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) technology.

Details of the deal are undisclosed but ASTI expects to have a turnover of $50m in 2021. The acquisition by ABB Robotics is expected to close in mid-summer 2021.

Founded in 1982, ASTI is headquartered in Burgos, Spain and employs over 300 people in Spain, France and Germany. It is majority owned by CEO Veronica Pascual Boé, alongside investor Keensight Capital.

ASTI’s AMR portfolio includes autonomous towing vehicles, goods-to-person solutions, unit carriers and box movers as well as a comprehensive software offering, ranging from vehicle navigation and control, fleet and order management and cloud-based traceability systems.

The Burgos site will become the centre for ABB AMR development, combining the technologies with ABB’s portfolio of robots, machine automation, modular solutions and software suite including RobotStudio, ABB Robotics’ simulation and programming tool. The centre will be led by Boé with core functions of R&D, engineering, product and project value chain.

ABB also plans to significantly expand production capacity at the site to support the planned sales expansion in Europe and the Americas. It will also establish an Asia AMR hub, including full value chain and manufacturing, at its new robotics factory in Shanghai set to open in 2022.

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China, the world’s largest robotics market, is projected to account for $1.8 billion of AMR sales annually by 2025.

The acquisition comes as ABB plans to expand its robotics automation business into new sectors and first-time users, including the launch of its new GoFa and SWIFTI collaborative robot families and its announcement that it will develop automation technology for the construction industry.

“With their industry-leading portfolio, comprehensive suite of software and deep domain expertise across growth segments, ASTI is the perfect choice for us as we support our customers with the next generation of flexible automation,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business. “With this acquisition, ABB will be the only company to offer a full automation portfolio of AMRs, robots and machine automation solutions, from production to logistics to point of consumption. This is a gamechanger for our customers as they adapt to the individualized consumer and seize opportunities presented by significant changes in consumer demand.”

“ABB’s vision is a perfect match for us, as we both support our customers’ flexibility and competitiveness through accelerating automation in the workplace. This is the next exciting stage of our journey and together we will accelerate our innovation plans, expand our global customer service, partner network, production and execution capacity and leverage ABB’s market access globally and particularly in China. I am delighted to join the extended Robotics management team and lead the AMR business to deliver this ambitious growth plan,” said Veronica Pascual Boé, ASTI CEO

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Picture: 
Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business (left) and Veronica Pascual Boé, ASTI CEO

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