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Flexible drive line can deliver 10,000 variants

01 February, 2003

Finland`s president, Tarja Halonen (below, right), has officially opened a flexible production line for variable speed drives at ABB`s Helsinki plant. The line, nicknamed "Galactica" because of its use of futuristic manufacturing technologies, has been designed to allow "mass customisation" of drives, tailoring them to specific applications as they move along the line.

Initially, the line will produce 100 drives a day in ratings from 100-610kW, but there are plans to boost the daily output to 150 drives. The line, which uses ABB`s own robots, as well as automated material flow and testing routines, takes about 4Ĺ hours to build a drive - about 30% faster than was previously possible. It can deliver around 10,000 different drive variants.

"We are not making bespoke drives, but we can customise them just-in-time, within the normal production procedure," explains Pekka Tiitinen, head of ABB`s drives operations. He says that the company needed to invest in flexible production technology for its medium and high power drives to meet the increasing demand for these products, and to satisfy customer-specific requirements.

"Several million" euros has been invested in the new line which boosts ABB`s drive production capacity by around 10%. In kVA terms, the line doubles ABB`s capacity without increasing personnel. The drives are a development of ABB`s ACS 800 technology.

"We expect a lot from our new ABB Adaptive Industrial Drives," says Tiitinen, "and I am confident that this new facility more than meets the demands of our customers"