Record audience for ABB Automation World 2005

Houston, TX—Relationship building and the importance of close partnerships with customers were two of the themes that combined with diverse technology presentations and product exhibits to make ABB Automation World Conference & Exhibition 2005 the company’s largest-ever customer event in the Americas.

By Control Engineering Staff June 1, 2005

Houston, TX —Relationship building and the importance of close partnerships with customers were two of the themes that combined with diverse technology presentations and product exhibits to make ABB Automation World Conference & Exhibition 2005 the company’s largest-ever customer event in the Americas. This second annual forum, held here April 19-22, drew a record audience of 1,700—including 1,200 customers and channel partners—which nearly doubled attendance over last year.

Conference plus exhibition

Some 120 workshops, technology classes, and case studies delivered the conference’s main theme of “Results-Driven Automation.” Presentations ranged over multiple topics from asset optimization and instrumentation & analytics to low-voltage controls and machines, motors and drives, to safety and security and to services & training. New for 2005 was a “Training Day,” featuring free training modules from among the above areas.

The exhibition comprised an 11,000-sq-ft display center where ABB showed its range of automation products, systems, and services. Displays included safety and advanced controls; robotics and manufacturing automation; low- and medium-voltage drives; motors; power technology; and services, among others. Industrial IT Extended Automation 800xA control system, IRC5 MultiMove robot controller, and new ACS800-37 low harmonics ac drive were among ABB products shown. See more about ACS800-37 drive in May Discrete Control Monthly E-Newsletter . Flow, pressure, and temperature measurement devices and controls represented process automation. Space also was devoted to specific industry sectors, such as minerals, metals, and mining; pulp and paper; chemicals and life sciences; and oil and gas.

Keynote from the top

Leading a company is all about people and teamwork—Fred Kindle, CEO of ABB Group.

Fred Kindle, CEO of ABB Group, led off the event with a keynote presentation entitled “Creating the Environment for Results,” which focused on the need to shift the typical vendor-customer “interaction” to a more meaningful business relationship for both sides. Part of that is developing long-term relationships with customers, including meeting them in person. “It takes backbone to not concentrate on short-term results…It’s more than just pleasing the ‘street’ [producing stock performance],” he said. As for what’s needed to lead a company like ABB, “It’s all about people and teamwork—one can’t lead a company without it, or without the whole company following you.”

Kindle mentioned ABB’s strong commitment to move forward, after some business setbacks in the recent past. “2004 was a key milestone, it restored the business picture.” Looking ahead, he considers 2005 to be a “critical” year, during which to build on ABB’s automation and power technologies, with emphasis on product efficiency and effectiveness. He expects the company to be “back on track and in a growth mode.” Acquisitions could come, small at first. Another change is that today, ABB is much less biased toward large projects like power generation, explains Kindle. Smaller projects/products will be fair game as well, in the future, using the latest software and automation solutions. He thinks that North American business is important to the company. “ABB must be competitive here to really be the world leader in process and automation technologies,” he added.

Other presenters

Also presenting at the opening of Automation World 2005 were Mark Young, general manager of ISV Strategy, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft Corp., (an ABB partner) and Margaret Walker, VP of Engineering Technology Centers and Manufacturing and Engineering Work Process at Dow Chemical Co. (an ABB technology customer). Young’s “Delivering Results through Technology” speech stressed that the collaboration of information technology (IT) and software are more critical than ever to technology developments. How to manage the five “manufacturing paradoxes” of optimization, flexibility, risk, collaboration, and innovation is a complex, ongoing task.

In “Sustainable, Results-Driven Automation,” Walker focused on the significance of people in business relationships, rather than on technology. “Technology is a given; if it’s not there, none of the relationship works. More than technology is needed,” she explained. Working together, that’s what drives sustainable relationships. Walker elaborated on four major points needed for success in a business partnership or alliance: shared vision, trust, communication, and conflict resolution.

North American roadmap

North America is a region for business that can’t be ignored—Dinesh Paliwal, president and CEO of ABB Inc.

In a separate meeting with editors, Dinesh Paliwal, president and CEO of ABB Inc., conveyed the importance of North American business to ABB and a roadmap for growth in the region. He explained that two of the company’s global presidents—for process automation and for manufacturing automation—are located here. “It’s a region that can’t be ignored.”

Globally, ABB’s three businesses consist of Automation Products (with $5.4 billion revenue in 2004), Process Automation ($4.6 billion), and Manufacturing Automation ($1.4 billion). The company claims that it ships one million products daily, worldwide, with North America shipping 125,000 products/day.

For North America, 2004 revenue reached $3.5 billion, with exports accounting for about 25% of that figure. ABB currently has 20 manufacturing plants here. A large installed base is important to ABB, remarked Paliwal. He summarized the company’s North American business direction in these terms:

  • Strengthen core business, with more R&D being done locally;

  • Leverage and enhance a large installed base via “performance-based” services;

  • Accelerate deployment of premium automation products through partner channels; and

  • Focus on key regional/global accounts.

Dates and venue for the next presentation of ABB Automation World in 2006 will be announced in the near future.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, executive editor