Industrial Automation Division


The Industrial Automation division offers customers solutions that are designed to optimize the productivity, energy efficiency and safety of their industrial processes by combining the division’s integrated control products, systems and service offerings with deep domain and process expertise of each end market. Solutions include turnkey engineering, control systems, measurement products, lifecycle services, outsourced maintenance and industry-specific products such as electric propulsion for ships, Azipods, mine hoists, turbochargers and pulp and paper quality control equipment. The systems can link various processes and information flows which allows customers to manage their entire manufacturing and business process based on real-time access to plant information. Additionally, the systems allow customers to increase production efficiency, optimize their assets and reduce environmental waste. Some of the products from the Robotics and Motion, Power Grids and Electrification Products divisions are integrated into the process control and electrification solutions offered by the Industrial Automation division.

The Industrial Automation division offerings are available as separately sold products or as part of a total automation, electrification and/or instrumentation system. The division’s technologies are sold primarily through direct sales forces as well as third-party channels.

The division had approximately 27,100 employees as of December 31, 2017, and generated revenues of $6.9 billion in 2017.


The Industrial Automation division’s end customers are primarily companies in the oil and gas, minerals and mining, metals, pulp and paper, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, power generation and marine industries. These customers are looking for complete automation, instrumentation, and electrification solutions that deliver value mainly through lower capital costs, increased plant availability, lower life-cycle costs and reduced project costs.

Products and Services

The Oil, Gas and Chemicals business provides solutions across the entire hydrocarbon value chain, from exploration and production to supply, transport and distribution, as well as refining, chemicals and petrochemicals. ABB specializes in mastering the control loop and transforming client operations through actionable insights that optimize performance in real time. From the well head to the refinery, ABB technologies connect people with data to optimize performance, improve reliability, enhance efficiency and minimize environmental impact from project start-up throughout the entire plant life cycle.

Other Process Industry markets served include mining, minerals processing, metals, pharmaceuticals and pulp and paper as well as their associated service industries. The business’ added value is deep industry expertise coupled with the ability to integrate both automation and electronics, resulting in faster start-up times, increased plant productivity and reduced overall capital and operating costs for customers. For mining, metals and cement industries, solutions include specialized products and services, as well as total production systems. The business designs, plans, engineers, supplies, erects and commissions electric equipment, drives, motors, high power rectifiers and equipment for automation and supervisory control within a variety of areas including mineral handling, mining operations, aluminum smelting, hot and cold steel applications and cement production. In the pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals areas, the business offers applications to support manufacturing, packaging, quality control and compliance with regulatory agencies. The offering for the pulp and paper industries includes quality control systems, control systems, drive systems, on-line sensors, actuators and field instruments.

ABB serves the power generation market with leading automation solutions for all types of power generation such as coal, gas, combined-cycle, waste-to-energy as well as renewable sources such as hydro, solar, wind and biomass. With an offering that includes instrumentation, excitation and control systems, ABB technologies help optimize performance, improve reliability, enhance efficiency and minimize environmental impact throughout the plant life cycle. The business also serves the water industry, including applications such as pumping stations and desalination plants.

ABB services the Marine and Ports business through its leading solutions for specialty vessels, container and bulk cargo handling. For the shipping industry, ABB offers an extensive portfolio of integrated marine systems and solutions that improve the flexibility, reliability and energy efficiency of vessels. By coupling power, automation and marine software, proven fuel-efficient technologies and services that ensure maximum vessel uptime, ABB is in the position to improve the profitability of a customer’s business throughout the entire life cycle of a fleet. ABB designs, engineers, builds, supplies and commissions automation and electrical systems for marine power generation, power distribution and electric propulsion, as well as turbochargers to improve efficiency. With ABB’s integrated operations centers around the world and marine software solutions, owners and operators can run their fleets at lower fuel and maintenance cost, while improving crew, passenger, and cargo safety and overall productivity of their operations. In addition, ABB delivers automation and electrical systems for container and bulk cargo handling – from ship to gate. The systems and services help terminal operators meet the challenge of larger ships, taller cranes and bigger volumes per call, and make terminal operations safer, greener and more productive.

ABB offers an extensive portfolio of products and software from stand-alone basic control to integrated collaborative systems for complex or critical processes. One of the solutions, System 800xA, provides a scalable extended automation system for process and production control, safety, and production monitoring. Freelance, another solution, is a full-fledged, easy-to-use distributed control system for small to medium size applications. The PLC Automation portfolio offers a scalable range for small, middle and high-end applications. Components for basic automation solutions, process and safety controllers, field interfaces, panels, process recorders and HMI (Human Machine Interfaces) are available through our Compact Product Suite offering. The product portfolio is complemented by Automation Sentinel, a subscription-based life cycle management program that provides services to maintain and continually advance and enhance ABB control systems (e.g. cyber security patches) and thus allows it to manage a customer’s life cycle costs. The Advanced Services offering provides individual software-based services to continuously improve automation and processes. ABB also offers Manufacturing Execution Systems that create agility and transparency for production processes by synchronizing and orchestrating a flow across individual automation islands. An interactive software platform, Decathlon Software, combines plant operations data from control systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other data sources into actionable information for decision-makers, creating additional customer value. ABB focuses strongly on the human factor and thus offers operator interfaces from panels to holistic control room solutions with ergonomic furniture and control centers to drive productivity, quality and safety to new levels.

The offerings of the Measurement and Analytics business are designed to measure product properties, such as weight, thickness, color, brightness, moisture content and additive content. Actuators allow the customer to make automatic adjustments during the production process to improve the quality and consistency of the product. Field instruments measure properties of the process, such as flow rate, chemical content and temperature. The business also offers a full line of instrumentation and analytical products to analyze, measure and record industrial and power processes.

ABB manufactures and maintains turbochargers for diesel and gas engines having power levels ranging from 500 kilowatts to over 80 megawatts. The business provides engine builders and application operators with advanced turbocharging solutions for efficient and flexible application operations and in compliance with the most stringent environmental requirements.

In July 2017, ABB acquired B&R, the largest independent provider focused on product- and software-based, open-architecture solutions for machine and factory automation worldwide. This acquisition closes ABB’s historic gap in machine and factory automation and is anticipated to create a comprehensive automation portfolio for customers globally. ABB combines state-of-the-art technology with advanced engineering to provide a wide range of customers with complete solutions for machine and factory automation, motion control, HMI and integrated safety technology. With Industrial Internet of Things communication standards like OPC Unified Architecture, POWERLINK and openSAFETY as well as the powerful Automation Studio software development environment, B&R strives to redefine the future of automation engineering. In addition, ABB offers a complete range of lifecycle services across all customer segments to help customers optimize their assets. Demand for process automation services is driven by customers seeking to increase productivity by improving the performance of existing equipment.

Sales and Marketing

The Industrial Automation division primarily uses its direct sales force as well as third-party channel partners, such as distributors, system integrators and OEMs. The majority of revenues are derived through the division’s own direct sales channels.


The Industrial Automation division’s principal competitors vary by industry or product line. Competitors include Emerson, Honeywell, Valmet, Rockwell Automation, Beckhoff Automation, Schneider, Siemens, Voith, and Yokogawa Electric Corporation.

Capital Expenditures

The Industrial Automation division’s capital expenditures for property, plant and equipment totaled $71 million in 2017, compared to $53 million and $57 million in 2016 and 2015, respectively. Principal investments in 2017 were in the Turbocharging and the Measurement and Analytics businesses. Geographically, in 2017, Europe represented 70 percent of the capital expenditures, followed by the Americas (17 percent) and AMEA (13 percent).