23 Jul 2024


ABB unveils Robotics & Motion division and ties up with Microsoft

ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division is being reborn as Robotics and Motion in the latest stage in its Next Level Strategy designed “to unlock value for customers and shareholders”. The former Process Automation division is being renamed Industrial Automation.

The far-reaching changes, announced by ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer, also include a partnership with Microsoft to develop next-generation digital systems, and the creation of an integrated digital offering called ABB Ability running across ABB’s operations. 

ABB is also consolidating more than 1,000 brands under the ABB master brand, showcasing the breadth and depth of its offering. This process is expected to take up to two years.

The new Robotics and Motion division brings together ABB’s motors, drives and robotics activities. The company hopes to become the world-leader in the robotics market – it is currently in second position – and will continue to invest in its number one position in industrial motors and drives by focusing on fast-growing segments and moving into light industry and emerging growth areas such as Asia.

Intelligent services and digital systems are already a strong pillar of the division’s performance and ABB hopes to strengthen its profitability through continued focus on operational excellence and value-chain optimisation.

ABB has set an EBITA target of 14–19% for the Robotics and Motion division over the period 2015–2020.

The new Industrial Automation division, which succeeds the former Process Automation division, will drive digitalisation across industry sectors, building on its number one position in process control through software and services. By focusing on growing segments and bringing together maintenance, operation and control, ABB says it will drive penetration of strongholds and create differentiation for customers.

The Industrial Automation division has an EBITA target of 11–15% over the period 2015–2020.

The new-look ABB includes two other divisions: Electrification Products; and Power Grids.

“Over the last two years,” says Spiesshofer, “ABB has become faster, leaner and more efficient. We have continuously improved margins and further strengthened our cash generation. In Stage 3 of our Next Level strategy, we are building on our successful transformation momentum and strengthening our position as a pioneering technology leader and global digital champion. With our four simplified, market-leading, entrepreneurial businesses, combined with ABB Ability, we address customers’ needs in the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions in a more focused and agile way.

“Entrepreneurial spirit is the base for our future operating model,” Spiesshofer adds. “Our four market-leading businesses, led by empowered entrepreneurs, will drive sustainable value creation, supported by regions and Group oxygen such as ABB Ability and our leading G&A cost level.”

ABB Ability combines ABB’s digital systems and services portfolio across all customer segments, cementing its position in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It brings together activities such as smart sensors, virtual commissioning, smart buildings, digital substations and electric vehicle infrastructures.


The new partnership with Microsoft aims to develop next-generation digital systems on an integrated cloud platform. It will combine ABB’s domain knowledge and extensive portfolio of industrial systems with Microsoft’s Azure intelligent cloud and B2B engineering competence. Together, the partners hope to drive digital transformation across ABB businesses such as robotics, marine and e-mobility.

“This partnership will provide unique benefits to our customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure, building on the combined strength of Microsoft and ABB,” Spiesshofer predicts “Building on ABB’s installed base of more than 70 million connected devices and more than 70,000 installed control systems, the next step is to develop one of the world’s largest industrial cloud platforms.”

ABB’s digital transformation will be led by Guido Jouret, a pioneer in the Internet of Things, who joined the company as Chief Digital Officer on October 1. He will report to the CEO.

ABB has raised its white-collar cost savings target by 30% to $1.3bn.