ABB Automation and Power World

ABB Automation and Power World conference returned to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston April 23-26 welcoming some 5,500 registrants. Some numbers: 50 countries represented, over 500 workshops, 130,000 sq ft of exhibit hall, 15 partners.

When I arrived Monday afternoon, the expo hall was open. As I wandered around getting my bearings and meeting old acquaintances, I found a large pavilion dedicated to automation and control. Nice to see a renewed public emphasis on that.

In the automation area were a number of cool things going on including an eye-scan demonstration that tracks participants eye movement around a screen. Web page designers have used such technology, but here it is used to improve operator interface. ABB is also devoting much investment in control room improvements.

Kicking off the keynotes, Enrique Santacana, CEO ABB Inc, reminded us of how 2011-2012 has been a year of economic shocks globally, but he expects robust business climate in 2012 and beyond for industrial automation and electric power–drivers include industrial productivity, (he added, if you are not investing in this, you will go out of business); grid reliability, transmission congestion, aging infrastructure; exponential growth in data driven processes; increased availability of natural gas from shale; energy efficiency, will see a lot invested here. The common denominator is sustained investment. He also noted that every one of those drivers lies within ABB’s sweet spot.

Joe Hogan, CEO of ABB Group, is perhaps the most charismatic CEO in the industry right now. Some notes from his keynote:

The T&B acquisition (expected to close Q2) is a growth acquisition that brings new things to the company, just as Baldor did. It also brings a world-class distribution system.

ABB technology ventures, invested $100 million so far; trilliant Industrial defender, power assure, pentalium, ecotality, validus, green volts; 6 of 8 are US based, so innovation still here.

Five components of ABB strategy:

  • driving competitiveness (and stay relevant in current markets
  • capitalize on megatrends (be in markets where there is growth)
  • aggressively expand core business to secure next level of growth (services is emphasis)
  • disciplined m&a
  • find and exploit disruptive opportunities (create a new market all together)
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