IBM to Develop Industrial IoT Devices with ABB

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April 28, 2017

Systems giant IBM is teaming up with manufacturer ABB to develop Internet of Things (IoT) devices with artificial intelligence (AI).

The initiative is intended to unite ABB’s Ability platform with IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) cognitive capabilities. The first two products will focus on “real-time cognitive insights” from the factory floor and on smart grids.

IBM and Switzerland-based ABB hope that the new products will help companies to address some of their biggest industrial challenges, such as improving quality control, reducing downtime and increasing speed and yield of industrial processes.

For example, the two technology companies want to use AI to help find defects using real-time production images that are captured through an ABB system, and then analyzed using IBM Watson IoT for Manufacturing. They suggested that, previously, these inspections were done manually, a cumbersome and error-prone process.

The vendors hope that manufacturing companies will be better equipped to increase the volume flowing through their production lines, while at the same time improving accuracy and consistency by using the new product. It could be used to identify critical faults that aren’t visible to the human eye and alert the manufacturer, claimed ABB.

In the smart grids area, ABB and IBM said they would use Watson to help predict patterns in electricity generation and demand from historical and weather data. This would be used to help utility companies to predict demand.

Other sources of data, such as temperature, sunshine and wind speed, could be used to help customers with load management and pricing in real-time.

“This powerful combination truly marks the next level of industrial technology, moving beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, to industrial operations and machines that use data to sense, analyze, optimize and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said that the collaboration with ABB will take Watson “even deeper into industrial applications,” whether in manufacturing, utilities or transport.

“The data generated from industrial companies’ products, facilities and systems holds the promise of exponential advanced in innovation, efficiency and safety,” she said.

IBM has made several big announcements over the past year focusing on IoT, AI and machine learning.

In October 2016, it announced a $200 million investment in its global Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, Germany.

In November, it released industry-specific IBM Watson IoT offerings for manufacturing, automotive, electronics and insurance. It also launched what it claimed was the first global IoT solutions practice, featuring 1,500 “experts” across nine of its IoT centers across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

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