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ABB, IBM Partner to Combine Automation, AI for Manufacturing

The partnership is intended to provide Internet-of-Things platforms combining ABB Ability and IBM Watson for such applications as automated quality control.

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ABB and IBM have announced a strategic collaboration that brings together ABB’s digital offering, ABB Ability, with IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities in an attempt to serve customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure. The first two joint industry solutions powered by ABB Ability and Watson are intended to bring real-time cognitive insights to the factory floor and smart grids.

“This powerful combination marks truly 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,” says ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.

“The data generated from industrial companies’ products, facilities and systems holds the promise of exponential advances in innovation, efficiency and safety. Only with Watson's broad cognitive capabilities and our platform's unique support for industries can this vast new resource be turned into value, with trust. We are eager to work in partnership with ABB on this new industrial era,” says Ginni Rometty, IBM chairperson, president and CEO. 

ABB and IBM say they will leverage Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time production images captured by an ABB system and then analyzed using IBM Watson IoT for Manufacturing. Manual inspection can be a slow and error-prone process. By bringing the power of Watson's real-time cognitive insights directly to the shop floor in combination with ABB’s industrial automation technology, companies will be better equipped to increase throughput while improving accuracy and consistency, the company says. As parts flow through the manufacturing process, the solution will alert the manufacturer to critical faults—some not visible to the human eye—in the quality of assembly. This will enable quick intervention from quality control experts. Easier identification of defects impacts all goods on the production line and helps improve a company’s competitiveness while avoiding costly recalls and reputational damage.

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