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ABB, Microsoft partner on Industry 4.0

William Payne
October 13, 2016

Swedish-Swiss industrial automation and energy grids specialist ABB and US software firm Microsoft are partnering to develop new digital solutions for industrial customers. ABB has announced a new portfolio of products and services, ABB Ability, aimed at the industrial, energy and infrastructure markets.

The two companies are aiming their joint efforts at bringing about digital transformation in customer segments such as robotics, marine and ports, electric vehicles and renewable energy.

The announcement came as ABB is fighting efforts by an activist shareholder, Stockholm based Cevian Capital AB, to break the company up.

Following the announcement of the deal with Microsoft, ABB announced that it had got the backing of its largest shareholder, Swedish fund Investor AB, to keep the company together.

Speaking of the deal with Microsoft, ABB chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said, "“This partnership will provide unique benefits to our customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure, building on the combined strength of Microsoft and ABB. Building on our installed base of more than 70 million connected devices and more than 70,000 digital control systems, the next step is to develop one of the world’s largest industrial cloud platforms.”

The ABB Ability offering, announced today, combines ABB’s portfolio of digital solutions and services across all customer segments, aiming to strengthen ABB’s market position in the energy and fourth industrial revolution. Based on Microsoft Azure, ABB’s new integrated cloud platform is planned as a key enabler for ABB Ability and is expected to create a large, open, digital industrial ecosystem for customers, partners, suppliers and developers.

“Together with ABB, we are providing industrial customers with the digital technology and cloud platform to empower every person, team and business system within an organisation to glean new insights and drive faster decision making to seize new growth and opportunities,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

Together, ABB and Microsoft plan to accelerate digital solutions that improve customers’ productivity by increasing up time, speed and yield.

As ABB standardises its platform on Azure, and expands its leadership in energy and the fourth industrial revolution, the company says that it will take full advantage of Azure services such as Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to capitalise on insights gathered at every level from device, to system, to enterprise, to cloud.

ABB and Microsoft have a long history of collaboration, and have delivered end-to-end solutions across several industries including Robotics, Smart Grids, Marine and Ports, and Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.