October 19, 2015      

Zurich-based ABB Ltd. is gathering its Canadian staffers in Technoparc Montreal. The automation and energy company plans to spend $70 million over the next 10 years on the new facility.

The 300,000 sq. ft. ABB Saint-Laurent campus will include its corporate headquarters, research and development, manufacturing, assembly, testing, and training facilities. It will also include demonstration areas for ABB’s products, such as robotics and remote-sensing equipment.

“This project, which is part of our 2020 global strategy, aims to promote greater collaboration and increase efficiency and organizational synergy between teams,” said Nathalie Pilon, the new president and CEO of ABB Canada. She also cited the company’s connections with academia and the city of Montreal.

“We are delighted by this project, which will reinforce ABB’s leadership and encourage the advancement of Quebec’s expertise in engineering in the field of energy and the automation technologies,” she added.

ABB, which is offering a $300,000 research grant for power and automation to postgraduate researchers, plans to move its 700 Montreal-based staffers to the new campus in 2017.

The company is also conscious of its image as a business serving in the energy industry.

“The new campus is being built in harmony with ABB’s vision for sustainable development, following principles of ecological construction and showcasing ABB products,” said Roger Plamondon, senior vice president of real estate development and acquisitions at Broccolini Construction Inc. “Our teams and those at ABB aim to obtain LEED Silver certification, a global certification attesting to a reduction of ecological footprint.”

Technoparc Montreal has three sites intended to encourage and house small and midsize enterprises in the life sciences, aerospace, information and communications technology, and clean tech research.

Automation and IoT in homes, underground and at sea

ABB is one of the leading companies working to capture the global market for robotics and automation, which Research and Markets predicts will grow to $82.7 billion by 2020. The research firm predicts that corporate acquisitions and partnerships will accelerate as vendors diversify their offerings and move into new geographic regions.

Last month, ABB demonstrated its voice-activated home automation system in Berlin. ABB is among the companies that hopes to bring the Internet of Things to household users, allowing people to remotely control lights, find out the status of home appliances, and monitor security.

ABB is also supporting a $580 million expansion of Boliden AB’s zinc, silver, and lead mines in Sweden.

ABB's System 800xA IoT controller

ABB’s System 800xA allows for remote monitoring and control.

As part of Boliden’s “Internet of Things, Services, and People” initiative, ABB’s System 800xA controls mill drives, hoists, and high-voltage transformers. The system allows operators with tablets to know what’s going on more than a kilometer below.

In addition, ABB opened a laboratory in Helsinki to serve the shipping industry. It hopes to eventually create a simulator for its automation systems and enable ship owners to take advantage of the emerging Internet of Things.

“Digitalisation allows owners to monitor remotely entire fleets using cloud services,” said Mikko Lepisto, director of software and automation operations at ABB. “When data collected by automation systems is utilized most optimal way, we can save both costs and environment. [IoT] opens new possibilities for marine industry for the development of the service business.”

ABB, which won “Innovation of the Year” for its Azipod D electric propulsion system, is having a ship built to its specifications in Norway for laying undersea power cable.

The ship will include technologies such as ABB’s Integrated Automation System to reduce energy consumption and collect and feed systems data back to support centers on land. ABB didn’t say how much the vessel will cost, but it expects it to be ready by 2017.