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Fanuc America hosts grand opening of new Michigan facility

July 10, 2024
The newest expansion supports a long-term plan to better serve the robotics and automation markets

Fanuc America is expanding its footprint in Auburn Hills, Michigan, as part of its five-year plan to support and advance industrial automation in North America. The expansion increases the footprint in Michigan to more than 2 million square feet and represents a $110 million investment built on 67 acres of land.

Control Design also had an opportunity to ask Fanuc America leaders some questions ahead of the grand opening about trends in robotics, user-friendly interfaces and the future of computer numerical control (CNC).

Q: Is there a Fanuc response to "cognitive" robots?

Claude Dinsmoor, vice president of robotics research and development at Fanuc America: “Cognitive robotics is very much an active research area in the broader context of all robotics. Technical committees sponsored by IEEE are very active in this area, and interesting demonstrations by Toyota Research and Google DeepMind show the long-term potential of this research. While work in this area is still in the research phase, we have been actively working on interfaces, for example streaming motion, remote motion interface, and ROS [robot operating system], which allow researchers and start-ups to take advantage of the most popular industrial robots in the world to solve real-world application problems.” 

Q: How is smart but simple is an ongoing theme for user interfaces?

Fanuc responded last year withthe next generation of application specific software for our Tablet Teach Pendant, which speeds up and simplifies implementing applications for both new and experienced automation users,“ Dinsmoor says. “Pallet Tool 3 is an example of this next generation of application oriented ‘smart but simple’ software, which understands the complexities of industrial palletizing via a no code task-oriented environment.”

Q: Is Fanuc upgrading their programming system to be more user friendly?

Dinsmoor: “Timeline programming with the Tablet Teach Pendant was first introduced as part of the CRX collaborative robot line; we have extended Timeline to be available across the robot line from our smallest (M-1iA 0.5KG delta robot) to our largest robots (M-2000iA/2300). Ease of use and programming is not just a feature for collaborative robots, it is available everywhere for Fanuc.”

Q: What can machine builders look forward to in the future? What is going on with the CNC side of the house?  

 “Fanuc’s wide array of development tools help our builders go to market with the best equipment possible. These tools are designed to optimize machine tools, including improved user experience, faster cycle times and better performance. In addition, Fanuc continues to innovate and upgrade our world-renowned reliable CNC systems with more graphical, customizable and easier to use HMIs [human-machine interfaces], as well as integrating 5-axis technology to provide advanced machining capabilities. Also, Fanuc just released the brand-new Alpha i-D Servo System. These motors are designed with higher top speeds than the previous versions and available with battery-less encoders. The drive systems have a smaller footprint to save cabinet space, helping to make the entire system more efficient,” said John Horn, national sales manager for Fanuc America’s factory automation division. Fanuc robotics and CNC machines are going strong in the United States and pushing to advance automation and controls for machine builders and end users alike, in the coming future.”

New facility and future development plans

Fanuc America’s industry growth and customer demand has created more than 400 jobs in Michigan since 2019. The 650,000-square-foot West Campus provides advanced product manufacturing and customized automation systems and includes warehouse space for more than 6,000 quick delivery robots and tens of thousands of parts.

Since 2019, Fanuc has invested more than $187 million, including a 461,000-square-foot North Campus facility in 2019, and new headquarter facilities in Mexico and Canada in 2023.

“This major expansion represents our growth strategy in the U.S. and our steadfast commitment to the future of the automation and robotics industry,” said Mike Cicco, president and CEO of Fanuc America. “While manufacturers continue to adapt to changing market demands, our ongoing upward trajectory allows us to better support our customers with cutting-edge robotic and automation solutions, helping to drive more efficiency across all industries.”

The company’s investment will continue with the renovation of a former law school on the site of the company’s West Campus that will soon become the Fanuc Academy, an advanced automation customer training center. After completion of the academy and other infrastructure projects, Fanuc America will have invested more than $250 million in North America.

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