Collaboration: ABB users discover new products, each other

By Control Engineering Staff March 27, 2007

Orlando, FL —Showing off the results of its 2006 R&D and order-related development spending of $1.1 billion, ABB gathered a record number of customers and partners here last week and demonstrated the power of collaboration. Its fourth annual Automation World customer conference presented user success stories and showcased a range of new products, including wireless remote I/O and a palm-size electronic trip circuit breaker.

More than 2,500 registered attendees from 38 countries—representing a 28% increase in customers and channel partners—chose from 350 technical sessions and walked the floor of the exhibit area. Many of ABB’s 6,000 researchers and developers worldwide were on-hand to talk to users about energy efficiency (related to advanced transmission systems, and high-efficiency motors and drives), flexibility, productivity, and return on investment. User-presented case studies turned a spotlight on System 800xA automation and control software and industry specific process optimization services, while the exhibit area showcased new products.

New this year: dc drive technology, low-voltage drives rated 0.5 to 10 hp, new NEMA motor designs, HART TTH300 and TTF300 temperature transmitters, and a compact PSR Softstarter. The Model T2 Tmax molded case circuit breaker, which fits in the palm of your hand, is said to be the world’s smallest electronic trip circuit breaker This microprocessor-based trip unit, with an interrupt rating up to 65 kA at 480 V ac, has a standard frame size and a set of interchangeable accessories.

ABB has been somewhat stealth in its approach to wireless technology, but that changed this year with an area of the exhibit floor dedicated to the topic. ABB’s WISA (wireless interface for sensors and actuators) technology is its first commercial wireless product. It targets factory automation and uses, according to ARC, and is a “revolutionary technology for powering 24-V sensors wirelessly, using a magnetic field.…produced by a sets of coils positioned around the manufacturing cell.” ABB has also tested wireless remote I/O with process industry customers, and is active in the HART wireless working group.

Fostering collaboration In the closing session of the event, ABB Chairman and CEO of North America Dinesh Paliwal told attendees that the future lies in forming lasting partnerships to broaden horizons and push for better results. He shared several principles for fostering collaboration:

Have a real hunger for information. This means asking the right questions and actively listening so you can focus on the right objectives. “Remember,” Paliwal said, “if a customer asks for a half-inch drill, what he really wants is a half-inch hole. We must all take the time to understand our customers’ needs.”

Broaden the horizons for exploration. This means extending the hunger for information to customers, employees, suppliers, and business leaders. Paliwal related the importance of working across business and geographical boundaries to capture the strengths of the entire organization. “It takes a deliberate effort to transform a culture of “doing it my way” into “achieving results our way,” said Paliwal.

Develop open and lasting partnerships. Paliwal noted that many of ABB’s top innovations have been developed jointly with customers, through strategic agreements. ( Please scroll down for a table about paper industry returns on investment and more article .)


Mill type
Customer investment, $
Annual savings, $
Payback ratio

5 to 1

Fine writing
6.4 t o1

12.5 to 1

9.3 to 1

7.5 to 1

18.9 to 1

10.5 to 1

Investments in new technology, including drives hardware and paper process optimization services, are delivering large returns for ABB pulp and paper industry customers. ABB announced overall Process Automation segment revenues of $5.4 billion for 2006.

Have a mindset for sharing across the extended team. This means celebrating mutual success, giving credit to the contributions of others, and, most importantly, developing people with a gift for collaboration so they have the opportunity to influence even more. “It’s also important to maintain the hunger for information when there are challenges, with the courage to learn and benefit from mistakes,” Paliwal said.

The next ABB Automation World Conference & Exhibition will be held in Houston, TX, April 29 to May 1, 2008.

— Renee Robbins , editorial director, Control Engineering Weekly News (Register here and scroll down to select your choice of eNewsletters free.)