ABB Making Moves

Four announcements in past week

An automation company has been in motion this week – in more ways in one.

ABB logo

ABB Group, of Zurich, Switzerland, has been active this past week with a combination of acquisitions, releases, partnerships and projections.

Last Wednesday, the company announced the groundbreaking of a new, $70-million, 300,000-square foot tech center in Montreal, to be completed by 2017. The high-tech center, which will be located in the Montreal Technoparc near Trudeau International Airport, will house ABB Canada’s headquarters, research and development activities, manufacturing, assembly and testing of electrical products, including transmission. It will also focus on robotics, remote sensing gear and the transportation sector.

This move came shortly after the appointment of a new regional CEO, Nathalie Pilon. This year’s winner of the Association of Quebec women in finance leadership award, Pilon was named CEO of ABB Canada in August and just took over this month. ABB Canada has annual revenue of about $2 billion with more than 5,000 employees in 56 locations across Canada — including 3,000 employees in Quebec and 700 in the Montreal area.

In a statement about the Technoparc, Pilon predicts that “the investment will allow us to continue improving our operational effectiveness and contribute to the development of cutting-edge technology.” Broccolini Constrution, Inc. will build the new centre and ABB Canada has a 10-year renewable lease.

Next up: some of the inventive things that will likely be assembled at the new plant and elsewhere. On Monday, at the eCarTec trade fair in Munich, ABB announced the upcoming release of a new electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging services platform, enhanced by Microsoft’s Azure cloud system. The partnership with Microsoft demonstrates an anticipation of the ever-expanding cloud market. The Azure platform is expected to provide the addition of “stability, global scalability and advanced management features” to ABB’s existing charging stations, according to the company.

In the same category, Tuesday saw the announcement of another variety of charging system; this one for hybrid urban transit buses. New rooftop designs will provide a recharge in 4-6 minutes, according to an ABB press release. They are scheduled to be integrated publicly in the Luxembourg transit system via Volvo Hybrids by 2016.

And finally, ABB posted better than expected 2015 third quarter earnings results in an early Wednesday morning release. In a statement and conference call, company chief Ulrich Spiesshofer said the third quarter results reflect challenging markets and were due in part to “short-cycle demand in oil and gas.” Revenues did indeed decline by 13 percent, but net profit was $50 million above analysts’ predictions.

The company is split into five business divisions:  Discrete Automation and Motion, Low Voltage Products, Process Automation, and Power Products & Systems. ABB operates in about 100 countries and employs 140,000 people.

Keep it movin’.


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