ABB to close Phoenix inverter fab, move jobs to Estonia and Italy

ABB, the multinational power electronics company, has said that it is to close the manufacturing operations at its Phoenix production plant in the U.S., with a reported 89 jobs under threat.

Spokeswoman for ABB U.S., Melissa London, confirmed the cuts but did not wish to be drawn on the exact numbers of jobs affected. However, under federal rules companies in Arizona must officially report major job cuts to authorities, and local media in the state are reporting that 89 layoffs have been announced.

The production plant is located near to Sky Harbor International Airport, and while London said that the facility will stay open to support some sales and service operations, the manufacturing jobs will move to Europe – specifically Estonia and Italy – by the fall.

"We are not disclosing the number impacted, but the facility currently employs around 200 [staff]," read a statement issued by ABB’s London. "The decision, taken after thorough review and analysis of all other options, reflects conditions in the wider macroeconomic climate. The consolidations will enable factory and supply chain optimization while improving cost, delivery and quality to our customers."

ABB’s expansion into the U.S. manufacturing landscape was boosted in 2013 when the Swiss company purchased U.S. inverter specialist Power-One Inc. for an estimated $1 billion deal – a deal that included the acquisition of the Phoenix plant which, at the time, employed 450 staff.

In a statement issued to pv magazine, Bill Luhrs, ABB Solar USA general manager, said that the consolidation will "enable factory and supply chain optimization while improving cost, deliver and quality to our customers. The transition is expected to be completed by November 2016."

Luhrs added that ABB is committed to the success of the U.S. solar market, and will launch its new PVS980 central inverter and TRIO 50 kW commercial string inverter into the U.S. shortly, while also "refreshing" the firm’s residential inverter lineup.

"As a global company with a strong North American footprint, we are aware that global economic instability has a very real community impact. We remain committed to serving our customers in North America and around the world," Luhrs concluded.