ABB CEO Joe Hogan sets an upbeat tone for the power industry’s near-term future, reaffirms ABB’s commitments to North American customers at a record-breaking power and automation event held this year in Orlando.
For the third consecutive year, ABB integrated all of its power and automation businesses’ resources to put on its annual customer conference and exhibition. This year’s event, ABB Automation & Power World 2011 – held this year at the Marriott World Center in Orlando with record-breaking attendance of more than 4,200 participants – carried a more optimistic tone and reflected the increasing optimism from the ongoing economic worldwide recovery.
ABB Group CEO Joe Hogan, ABB Region Manager in North America Enrique Santacana, and other ABB leadership figures all pointed to signs of strong long-term growth as the power industry continues to transform itself through smart grid innovations, renewable energy advances and other breakthroughs.
Hogan, who spoke candidly at the event’s General Session, in a special Town Hall Meeting for ABB’s customers and at a Press Conference, reiterated ABB’s increased attention and commitment to North America’s power industry.
“We’re not just committed to North America, we are truly excited about it,” Joe said. “We poured in more than $5.5 billion into the region last year alone.”
He pointed to signs of strong long-term growth as the power industry continues to transform itself through smart grid innovations, renewable energy advances and other breakthroughs.
ABB has invested more than $6.5 billion into the United States market in the last two years. This includes the $1 billion acquisition last year of Atlanta-based Ventyx, the market leader for energy management software, and a $4 billion acquisition of Fort Smith, Arkansas-based Baldor Electric Company, a highly-respected maker of industrial NEMA motors and drives.
Hogan also pointed to new investments ABB has made in the U.S. to better position itself to meet its customers’ needs. ABB’s new Technology Ventures arm has made more than $60 million in investments in the last year, including investments in leading U.S. power-related companies, including:
ABB has also invested $90 million into building a brand new high voltage (and extra high-voltage) transmission cable factory in the U.S., both AC and DC cables to be used in upcoming major American transmission buildouts. ABB held a groundbreaking ceremony at the plant’s site in Huntersville, North Carolina (near Charlotte) on April 4, with the Governor of North Carolina Bev Perdue participating in the event. The plant is scheduled to open in mid-late 2012.
At a packed Town Hall meeting with customers, direct current (DC) came up as an example of a "disruptive technology." (e.g., “we may soon see DC buildings if the majority of equipment inside them use DC”), but also of ABB's penchant for continuous innovation within very mature technologies. “Think of ABB as a DC type of company…though we still manufacture lots of AC cable as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hogan also spoke to ABB’s focus on data centers by openly acknowledging that ABB has been late to the party, but noting that the company seeks to first understand customer needs and market characteristics.
"We don’t just come with a product," he said.
Hogan said he sees the recent S&P downgrade of U.S. debt as a useful warning that the U.S. is overextended and must impose fiscal discipline. Asked about trans-Atlantic business, he remarked on the technical literacy he sees among Europe’s leaders and how that has resulted in greater investment in power grids, for example.
ABB is helping to create a more flexible, efficient and smarter power grid to master the challenges from rising demand, renewable energies, and new applications such as electric vehicles.
ABB partner ECOtality showcased in its EV Solutions booth the company’s three styles of intelligent Blink chargers, along with its new cell phone application for the Blink charging stations and ABB’s capabilities and involvement in this market, spanning from the many components inside the charging station to balancing the grid. Attendees also were able to test drive smart cars and check out the Nissan Leaf in the booth.
2012 date, venue announced
ABB also announced the dates and venue for ABB Automation & Power World 2012. The event will return to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, on April 23-25, 2012. To read more about highlights from the show, please visit the Automation & Power World 2011 show blog or www.abb.us.