In the eye of the storm
Pioneering technology leader ABB shows the way to the future in the current energy and 4th industrial revolutions. The company is not merely preparing to react to changes, but as a global operator in the sector, it is influencing what our future will look like. ABB’s clients operate globally in the Utilities, Industry and Transport & Infrastructure sectors, where electricity distribution, product manufacturing, and traffic management are all facing significant changes.
“The new energy and industrial revolution has already significantly impacted the sectors where both ABB and our clients operate. For example, smart housing solutions and the rise of electric cars will affect our lives in ways that we cannot yet even imagine,” says CTO Heikki Uusitalo, ABB Finland.
Digitalisation solutions play a key role in utilising the upcoming changes. Sales of software and digital-ready devices already comprise well over a half of ABB’s total sales. There are already over 70 million internet-connected devices and around 50 cloud-based services sold by the company all over the world.
“We have come far in utilising the IoT, robotics, and cloud services, and the economic impact that these technologies have had on the market that we operate in can be measured in the trillions,” says Uusitalo.
The effect of digitalisation at ABB can also be seen in the increasing amount of new services. However, according to Uusitalo, the technical solutions used in the company’s devices have been available since the 1980s, and ABB were using IoT solutions, for example in their frequency converters, long before the term was invented.
“The technical solutions in their own right are not all new. What is new is the development of the Internet of Things that serves as a platform for new digital services,” says Uusitalo.
The transition from providing technical solutions to providing services requires many kinds of changes to processes, good practical examples of which are ABB´s two new Collaborative Operations Centres in Helsinki. One centre focusing on marine technology genuinely utilises the Internet of Things, as cloud services are used for monitoring ships equipped with ABB technology throughout the world. The other centre leverages ABB’s extensive pulp and paper expertise to provide true data-driven solutions for its customers by providing remote connectivity, secure access to process performance information, and technical support. For ABB’s clients, the benefits of digital solutions can lead to lower costs due to reduced downtime or increased productivity thanks to improvements in predictability.
“We have shifted from generating data to utilising it,” says Uusitalo. He says that the use of sensors and the observation and analysis of data collected by them has long played an important role in the industrial market. However, services that create new value require the utilisation of data in things such as maintenance plans and production processes, which has a real influence on the client’s business. According to Uusitalo, the full extent of the benefits will become visible in the longer term, as more and more data is collected.
ABB has opened several digital Collaborative Operations Centres around the world for remote surveillance and real-time technical support.
“ABB Ability brings together all of our digital products and services for the first time, thus allowing us to provide our client with solutions utilising excellent industry know-how, technological leadership and digital expertise,” says Uusitalo.