ABB power electronics team relocating to new premises

ABB has announced plans to build a world class research and development centre and factory in Napier. Four years ago ABB purchased the Napier based power electronics company Vectek Electronics. The business has expanded rapidly and now has a staff of around 130.

ABB’s Napier business has global responsibility for a range of highly innovative power protection and power conversion products which they design, manufacture and sell globally. Products range from leading edge voltage conditioners that are used to protect some of the world largest semiconductor (silicon chip) manufacturing plants, through to frequency converters allowing ships to connect to shore power while at port, saving fuel and reducing pollution. To meet future requirements of the expanding business, a new 6500 square metre facility is to be built creating a true centre of excellence for this global operation. This significant investment in times of global economic uncertainty reinforces the importance of the Napier based design and manufacturing operation to ABB’s international power electronics business.

The construction work will be undertaken by Arrow International (NZ) Limited. Arrow have engaged local consultants Paris Magdalinos Architects and Strata Group Engineers to deliver this new facility under a Design and Build construction contract. Arrow’s Wellington and Hawkes Bay Regional Manager Andrew McKenzie says “Arrow is delighted to have been chosen by ABB to be their construction partner in this exciting new project. Over the last six months as a team we have worked closely with ABB and our designers to produce the design for the world class facility that ABB are seeking”.

The new facility is to be sited at the new Hawke’s Bay Airport business park. John Penny, General Manager of ABB’s Napier based business is particularly pleased with the new site location. “As an export company, the proximity of the airport is important because both freight and passenger services are key to our operations. In 2011 we consigned 581 shipments of 88,555 kg of airfreight and spent $350,000 on air travel, not including those who came to visit us by air. The site and new building will be convenient for our international customers and also help reinforce our leading edge brand.”

The growth in ABB’s business that is signalled by the new Hawke’s Bay facility is not only good news for the local economy but also the New Zealand research, design and manufacturing sector as a whole, says Grant Gillard, Managing Director of ABB New Zealand. “ABB is very committed to New Zealand with three manufacturing plants and over 700 people employed. Although we only make up a small percentage of ABB’s 145,000 employee global work force, we are very proud to be recognised as a centre for innovation and a major export earner for New Zealand.” The facility is expected to be completed early in 2013.