ABB riding the wave of industrial AI innovation

ABB riding the wave of industrial AI innovation

  • Increasingly embed AI into ABB business with over 100 AI projects in process
  • Further develop AI capability via collaboration with partners and investment in innovation-driven startups
  • Well positioned to support China customers to unleash potentials with AI-powered automation and electrification solutions

Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation Business today shared ABB’s view and strategic framework around artificial intelligence (AI) in Shanghai. He introduced how ABB is accelerating the development, deployment and use of AI – both analytical and generative to drive innovations for customers by combining AI with ABB’s domain know-how, and to further strengthen its technology leadership.

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"AI is not new to ABB. Since 2014, we have been continually driving value creation for our customers with AI-enabled automation and electrification solutions. As the development of generative AI continues at pace, we are experiencing a significant leap forward in how we work, learn, and innovate. Machines are smarter, more capable and easier to use, lowering the barriers to automation for companies of all sizes while addressing our customers' needs for greater flexibility and intelligence amidst critical skilled labor shortages and global uncertainty. Working together with customers, partners and educators, ABB will drive the development of AI for industry, helping to build more prosperous societies." said Atiya in the live-streaming presentation.

Accelerating AI innovation across businesses

As a pioneering technology leader, ABB has increasingly embedded AI into its automation and electrification portfolio that help utility, industry, transport and infrastructure customers to boost productivity and efficiency. With a focus on key areas of insight generation, process optimization, new skill development and human-machine interaction, over 100 AI projects are in process at ABB across Analytical AI and Generative AI.

ABB is already using AI to support the customers of various industries through all four business areas: Electrification, Motion, Process Automation, and Robotics and Discrete Automation. From macro-level energy management to micro-level path planning for robotic movements, AI optimizes operations and enhances efficiency. For example -

  • ABB utilizes data from building systems combined with behavioral patterns for building energy management, bringing considerable emission reduction, over 20% cost reduction and extension of equipment lifetime.
  • ABB uses AI to help predict when the drives are likely to fail and allow for predictive maintenance by analyzing operational data, significantly improving availability of device and reducing maintenance costs.
  • Through process optimization, ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI suite helps businesses realize up to 40% cost savings in operations and maintenance, up to 30% improvement in production efficiency, and up to 25% improvements in energy and emission optimization. 
  • In the field of human-machine interaction, ABB is using voice commands to instruct robots e.g., for pick-and-place tasks, which brings the customers with ease of use and fast commissioning.

Driving integration of robotics + AI

The world today is facing various challenges and opportunities posed by those megatrends - the individualization of consumers, the uncertainty, labour shortage and the demand for a more sustainable world. ABB provides leading robot and automation solutions that give businesses the flexibility, quality, productivity and simplicity they need to address these challenges and opportunities. Particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will gain cost-efficient access to robotics due to lowering entry barriers and simplicity of use through AI.

Empowered by data and AI, robots can reach new levels of autonomy, being able to adjust to new conditions without human input. ABB is integrating AI to its robotic solutions which bring the customers with more autonomy, analytics and image processing.

  • Quality inspection: ABB provides machine vision-enabled robotic cell to check spot and identify defects with 22-micrometer accuracy and at a speed twenty times faster than human;
  • Predictive maintenance: ABB robot with AI based assessment criteria learning delivers 99.9% diagnosis accuracy and zero production interruption;
  • Autonomous drilling: ABB robot with sensors and AI system helps Schindler with drilling and installation in the elevator shaft to improve precision and work safety;
  • Item picking: ABB robot can pick up unknown objects with the ability to execute 1400 picks per hour, powered by 3D vision and AI deep neural networks;
  • Autonomous mobility: ABB mobile robots with AI-enabled 3D vision navigation technology are able to work autonomously in a rapidly changing environment.

To address the increasing demands for AI-powered robotic solutions, ABB is investing heavily in its facilities and AI innovation capability, including the inauguration of world-class robotics mega factory in Shanghai with a new R&D center on innovation of AI, digitalization and software, the expansion of existing robotics factory in US and in Sweden to increase production capacity and develop next generation AI-enabled technologies. Meanwhile, ABB has been supporting the talent development for AI innovation, including the partnership with Google to organize hackathon-style events and hosting innovation contest in China.

With an approach of “Make and Buy” for organic and in-organic growth, ABB is also investing in the promising AI startups to get access to new technologies, obtain insights into new sectors, learn about new business models and ensure the company stays on top of innovations happening outside of its own walls. In early 2024, ABB acquired the Swiss startup Sevensense to expand leadership in next-generation AI-enabled autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and also a majority of the R&D engineering company Meshmind to further advance AI and software-driven automation.

Exploring opportunities in China’s AI revolution

As one of the first countries to release a national AI strategy, China has formulated a number of comprehensive action plans and incentive programs, emphasizing AI+ strategy. The momentum of its AI development is driven by booming market demands with rich application scenarios, strong policy support and computing power infrastructure. According to a report from market research firm CCID Consulting, China's AI industry is expected to make great strides in the next 10 to 15 years, with market scale reaching $240.4 billion by 2035, accounting for 30.6% of the world's total.

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Henry Han, President of ABB Robotics in China said, China is world’s largest robot market and a leading player in the global AI landscape. We actively embrace the new era of AI revolution by accelerating innovations, and integrating AI with robotics for automotive, 3C, education and new sectors like healthcare, retail and new energy in China, creating more customer values with new levels of autonomy in robotic applications.

In addition to enhancing customer value, ABB has also deployed AI into its own operations in China to enhance efficiency and quality. One example is the OmniCore controller production line at ABB Robotics Mega Factory in Shanghai, where the use of AI + 2D Vision Screw Hole Localization achieves 100%accuracy compared to 20%without AI, revealing huge potential of AI applications within the company.

Embracing AI is not an option, but a necessity for staying competitive and driving progress in virtually every industry. ABB is working closely with partners and customers in China and from the world to further accelerate the deployment of AI-powered automation and electrification solutions, and to power transformation and quality development of industries.

ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and re-source-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered and operated. Building on over 140 years of excellence, ABB’s more than 105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation. www.abb.com

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