An ABB robotic arm assembles small components in a factory setting Courtesy of ABB

An ABB robotic arm assembles small components in a factory setting.

ABB’s Acquisition of B&R is a Game Changer for Industry 4.0

The partnership between the automation solutions giant and software, controls, and motion systems provider, B&R, will lead to increased R&D and connectivity in new and existing ABB automated systems.

When it comes to digitization and connectivity in factory automation, ABB Inc.’s acquisition of B&R may be the most influential deal of the year, with B&R’s expertise in software and open-architecture solutions expected to yield comprehensive, end-to-end digitization solutions in ABB robotics and automated systems.

In an interview with Smart Industry, ABB’s Chief Digital Officer, Guido Jouret highlighted B&R’s capabilities in measurement, control, and actuation that complement ABB’s vision for process automation and manufacturing. “Real customer value is delivered by closing the loop with connected devices and delivering end-to-end digital solutions. B&R provides a strong base for exactly that.” 

B&R will integrate with ABB’s Industrial Automation division as the new Machine & Factory Automation global business unit. Led by B&R’s current managing director, Hans Wimmer, the partnership will build on B&R’s current offerings in PLCs, industrial PCs, servo motion products, and software and solution suites for end-to-end digitization in automated manufacturing and processes.

The collaboration will bolster ABB's existing installment base, and its newest digital solutions portfolio, ABB Ability. “[We have] a unique digital offering and an installed base of more than 70 million connected devices, 70,000 control systems, and now more than 3 million automated machines and 27,000 factory installations around the world,” Jouret adds.

The companies will also continue to invest heavily in R&D during the partnership. Currently, ABB employs roughly 30,000 technologies and engineers, and B&R employs 1000 R&D and applications engineers.

Expected to close mid-2017, the acquisition will increase ABB’s competitiveness with other industrial automation companies, including German company, Siemens, which currently holds the most power in the factory automation market. With the new acquisition, ABB aims to grow B&R’s $600 million in sales at the end of 2015 to excess of $1 billion by the mid-year report. 

 

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