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ABB forms manufacturing alliance with Microsoft, Intel and Accenture

01 March, 2003

ABB has joined forces with Microsoft, the chip-maker Intel, and the management and technology services specialist Accenture, in an alliance designed to help manufacturers to bridge the gap between their plant floor operations and their enterprise IT systems.

The Industrial IT alliance aims to help manufacturers by simplifying integration of their systems, providing better insight into their businesses, assisting them in making informed, real-time business decisions, and enhancing their financial performance.

The four partners will offer a range of computing, diagnostics, design, development and integration services. They will work together to develop a manufacturing automation technology that, they say, will work seamlessly in a plant environment and integrate with enterprise IT systems.

The alliance will draw heavily on ABB`s open, standards-based Industrial IT architecture, which is designed to allow faster "plug and produce" integration of various manufacturing components. Each element in a plant - including equipment, raw materials and finished goods - is represented by a dynamic software shell, called an "aspect object", designed to speed navigation to critical information. Simply by clicking a mouse on the aspect object for any component, users can access documentation, and configuration and connectivity tools, designed to accelerate installation, control, troubleshooting and lifecycle maintenance.

ABB says it has already "information enabled" and certified more than 30,000 hardware and software products to work with Industrial IT.

Accenture has developed an integration layer, based on Industrial IT and the Microsoft`s BizTalk server, to help real-time exchanges of data between plantfloor and enterprise systems. Accenture also will provide program management support to help clients with diagnostics, hosting and large-scale systems integration.

Intel`s microprocessing technologies and computing platforms will be used in a modular IT infrastructure that mixes wired and wireless communications with open, scalable servers, networks and storage, to cut operating costs and to increase flexibility.

Microsoft`s .NET technologies will be used to help customers to integrate their existing systems and business processes with current and future technologies.

The alliance will also offer development, consultancy and support services to application providers and independent software suppliers, to help them develop applications that use the Industrial IT architecture and the companion technologies from Accenture, Intel and Microsoft. The alliance has set up a dedicated Web site at

"Removing the barriers to real-time data synchronisation must be part of the overall business equation for collaborative manufacturing," says Larry O`Brien, director of process industry research for the market analyst, the ARC Advisory Group. "No single company today can do this across the enterprise. To achieve this in a way that yields a common direction for manufacturers will take the combined efforts of strong companies such as those included in the Industrial IT alliance."

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