If robots actually do take over the world, you can thank ABB Inc. The US operations of global manufacturing conglomerate ABB have built a presence in dozens of industries. Like its Swiss parent company, ABB Inc. operates in two main areas -- automation technologies and power technologies -- and serves customers in the power utilities, chemicals, oil and gas, and industrial process industries. ABB Inc.'s products include controls and instrumentation, robotics, switches, motors, generators, transformers, power electronics, and circuit breakers. The company also offers various consulting, repair, and outsourcing services.
ABB Inc. has realigned its automation operations to better fit the activities of its customers. The Automation business is divided into two divisions: Discrete Automation and Motion (robotics, motors, and drives), and Low Voltage Products (electrical equipment sold to wholesalers and OEMs). Other divisions include Power Products, which makes and sells switchgears, circuit breakers, and transformers for utilities and industrial customers, and Power Systems, which distributes automation and control technology used in power generation plants and pumping stations.
ABB Inc. is focused on organic growth through the development of new products that increase energy efficiency and enhance productivity. Engineers at its ABB Corporate Research Center work with top universities in the US -- including Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, MIT, Penn State, and Stanford -- in areas that include electric power grid reliability, utility information automation systems, and smart grid technologies.
The company's operations are bolstered through acquisitions from its parent company that expand its presence in key markets, as well as its product and technology portfolio. In one of its largest deals to date, ABB obtained Thomas & Betts (T&B) for about $3.9 billion in 2012. T&B is a leading US seller of electrical connectors, HVAC equipment, and transmission towers. The acquisition significantly added to ABB Inc.'s North American presence, adding T&B's network of more than 6,000 distributor locations and wholesalers throughout the continent.
ABB purchased Australia-based Mincom in spring 2011. In late 2010 it also acquired Key Solutions (IKS), a Switzerland-based software provider with a power generation plant and transmission and distribution network customer base. Both acquisitions -- Mincom and IKS -- bolstered ABB's Ventyx unit, an enterprise software provider used by energy, mining, and utility companies to help extend the life of their infrastructure and reduce costs.