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FANUC Looks to Expansion to Aid Diversification Efforts

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media
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A FANUC robot participates in a groundbreaking ceremony for a company expansion. Photo courtesy Bill Koenig

AUBURN HILLS, MI — Robot maker FANUC is looking to a $51 million expansion project to help it enter new markets, an executive said today.

The project will include space for laboratories. “When new customers or new markets want to come to us and say, ‘Have you ever thought of this or have you ever thought of that,’ we’ll have dedicated floor space set up to really try to develop new things for to meet the new markets’ needs,” said Mike Cicco, president and CEO of FANUC America.

The 460,000-square-foot (42,700-square-meter) project in Auburn Hills, MI, is a short distance from FANUC America’s Rochester Hills, MI, headquarters. Most of the project will be devoted for warehousing robots and parts. Less than 10%, though, will be assigned to laboratories.

“It makes it sound small,” Cicco said. “Less than 10% is still 46,000 square feet, which is as big as a normal building.”

FANUC, whose world headquarters is in Oshino, Japan, historically has been a major supplier of robots for the auto industry. It has been among the robot makers who have developed collaborative robots, or “cobots,” which can be deployed in close proximity to humans. Prior to cobots, robots were walled off on the factory floor from humans.

‘Continue to Grow’

FANUC intends to enter new markets including aerospace and logistics.

The company wants “to continue to grow, not only in our traditional markets, but in new markets as well,” Cicco said during a groundbreaking ceremony today for the project. FANUC announced the expansion in July.

The event included a FANUC robot shoveling dirt along with local officials. In reality, site preparation work has been underway already. Earth-moving equipment was at work even during the groundbreaking. FANUC says the expansion is scheduled to be completed by November 2019. The robot maker says it expects to add about 100 jobs with the project.

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