ABB Rededicates to Responsible Growth

April 15, 2015
ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said during his March 2 keynote address at the opening of ABB Automation & Power World 2015 in Houston that software, services and an unwavering commitment to R&D by ABB will be engines of growth for years to come.

Because software is a key enabler of automation and power generation, it's been a huge part of ABB's $10-billion capital investment in North America over the past five years, reported ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer, during his March 2 keynote address at the opening of ABB Automation & Power World 2015 in Houston.

"More than half of our offerings today are software-based," said Spiesshofer.

More than 8,000 attendees attended the weeklong event, a record number, representing a 116% increase since the combined event was first held in 2009. Spiesshofer stressed that software, services and an unwavering commitment to R&D by ABB will be engines of growth for years to come. For example, The new YuMi collaborative robot, which can work side-by-side with humans, is one of ABB's newer developments.

"We're a very large corporation with a lot to offer," explained Spiesshifer. "When I was elected by the board of directors, I called my mom to tell her, and she asked what ABB does. We need to be able to relate that in simple terms—we do power and automation for utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure, and we do it globally. It also means being a leader in operational asset effectiveness and efficiency."

About 45% of ABB's business is in industry, 35% in utilities, and 20% in transportation and infrastructure. The largest share of its revenue, about $41.5 billion in 2014, comes from the Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region with 37%, while Europe is at 34%, and the Americas at 29%.

Spiesshofer reported that ABB has experienced significant growth in North America, including a 120% increase in sales and 125% uptick in employees from 2010 to 2014.

More recently, Spiesshofer and his executive team have created five value pairs for running the company—safety and integrity, customer focus and quality, ownership and performance, innovation and speed, and collaboration and trust.

Innovations for End User

ollowing the keynote address, APW featured hundreds of technical sessions and presentations, including many by users employing ABB's solutions to help their applications thrive.

John Dempsey, senior vice president and project director, Energy and Chemicals, Fluor Corporation, reported at APW's Chemical, Oil and Gas Forum that his company is becoming more of a solutions provider than just a services provider, and by executing projects even more efficiently to help clients handle recent energy price declines. Fluor's innovation and improvement program is taking good ideas from its 40,000 employees, running them past more than 70 senior fellows, and turning them into higher efficiencies. It's also using third-generation modularization to bring 85% of electrical and 95% of instrumentation, along with piping, wiring and testing, to completion in module yards instead of in the field. Dempsey reports that about 90% of field hours have been moved to the module yard to make equipment plug-and-play onsite, which results in quick project turnaround and schedule certainty.

To show how electrical and process systems are coming together to achieve performance gains, Leandro Monaco, ABB global product manager for System 800xA electrical integration, reported on Vale's huge iron ore mine in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. ABB and Vale recently developed a remote asset management and predictive maintenance program for Belo Horizonte's electrical systems, which would also improve the mine's energy efficiency. "The ideal management of a plant isn't just increasing production, but is also relating that production to energy consumption," said Monaco. "Unfortunately, power systems don't get much attention, most electrical maintenance is corrective, and this usually means hours of lost production. Bringing in open/close counts, trip counts, operating current values, spring charging times and trip circuit supervision data into an asset management can help head off problems without doing unneeded maintenance."

During a panel discussion on the Internet of Things (IoT), Frank Berry, process controls group manager for Air Products, reported that it began by building its Remote Operations Center a few years ago, and then connecting it 24/7 to hundreds of manufacturing facilities. "We've enjoyed jumping into IoT with both feet, and it's been a big game changer for us," said Barry. "We've gone from polling our plants for data to having them push it to us. This has allowed us to mine cyclic and acyclic data, create better KPIs and dashboards, and do better predictive maintenance. It's hard to spread expert knowledge across all these sites, so our remote center allows us to gather data, and do condition monitoring. Then, we can supply our best technical knowledge to all of them, instead going site by site."

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