DUBAI, UAE — Advanced automation specialist ABB has established its footprint in the UAE e-commerce market by joining forces with e-tail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The deal will enable ABB's autonomous driving automation solutions to be deployed in the ‘Buy & Sell’ service delivery hub for the Global Distribution Network (GDN), a strategic hub for the group in the Middle East.

The ABB Hero Robot Unit will help reduce the costs of the GND initiative through automation of a range of services, including pick and shipment, fulfillment and returns.

Making good use of ABB Robot Unit technology, these retailers and distribution centers will further build a reliable, convenient and cost-effective service that better serves customers through all times and locations.

The automation and robotics technologies will further help Alibaba grow its e-commerce sales and strengthen the GND initiative.

Ziyi Chen, Vice President of IT at Alibaba Greater China e-commerce, said, “Automation and robotics help us improve the customer experience, cost efficiency and overall operation of our operations. We are therefore excited about the joint initiative between ABB and Alibaba which will help us jointly realize the full potential of the technology. We believe we can achieve great things together.”

Abbreviated as ZHJ, the GND aims to achieve full automation of items for sale in its systems by 2017 to reduce operational cost by 90 percent. Alibaba has targeted to ensure as much as 70 percent of items in the current e-commerce platform are automatically scanned and ready for fulfillment by 2017.

Nancy Barry, President of ABB Robotics, commented, “Alibaba’s GND is the first of its kind and we are proud to be part of the development. It will enable more than 80 retailers and wholesale distributors to efficiently service their customers around the world and improve the customer experience through digital economy.”

The partnership came about after ABB recently hosted the Engineers and Manufacturing Engineers International (EMI) Middle East Research and Development Conference and Exhibition (EMRDE) 2016 on the sidelines of BUMIA 2016 in Dubai.

The ABB Robotic Unit is in full use already in the logistics space with outstanding projects with global players such as DHL and HelloWorld. It makes use of ABB’s Neo-Robotic technology, ABB Shuriken movement system and ABB Highway Fixed-weight Autonomous Tracking System.

ABB Robotics has also been the supplier of the MB 120 XICON Robot at the ‘Best Bus Show in the World’ hosted in Shanghai in 2016. The XICON Robot is a ‘cart’ that uses front-loading technology to decrease driver drag and weight. ABB has been supplying ‘Robot’s in China since the 1980s.