The #1 ABB moment of the year revealed!

A new chief executive, a surprise takeover, or “just” more technological breakthroughs? 2013 was more than a full year for ABB.

The top moment of 2013 was undoubtedly the appointment of ABB’s new CEO, Ulrich Spiesshofer, who took the helm from Joe Hogan in September. The news was welcomed both inside and outside ABB because Ulrich had successfully led ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion (DM) division for nearly four years, doubling the division’s revenues by organic and inorganic means and improving the operating margin significantly.

Paying tribute to Joe Hogan, Ulrich said his predecessor was leaving a robust, well-managed company, with strong positions in many exciting markets and a compelling value proposition for customers. Our new CEO said the focus going forward would be on capturing profitable growth through better penetration in existing ABB markets, innovation and expansion.

Speaking of expansion, the $1 billion purchase of Power-One was more modest than the $4 billion apiece spent earlier on Baldor and Thomas & Betts. But the bold move into solar inverters, when some rivals were having second thoughts about the sector, is likely to go down as far sighted against the background of accelerating climate change.

With innovations in technology coming out of the woodwork, it’s hard to pick any single ABB tech breakthrough in 2013 for special recognition. Better leave it to the experts at MIT’s Technology Review. In April, they recognised ABB for its hybrid high voltage direct current (HVDC) breaker, placing the discovery among the 10 most important technology milestones of the past year.

“Since 2001, our editors have carefully selected the technologies poised to make the greatest impact on the shape of innovation in the years to come and the organizations leading the charge in those fields,” said Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of the MIT Technology Review.

“ABB is helping to define the way we think about creating practical, high-voltage direct current circuit breakers”, he added.

ABB’s HVDC skills were demonstrated elsewhere too – though nowhere quite as dramatically as in the North Sea off Germany, where, for three days in August, a 9,300 tonne module containing the world’s highest-voltage offshore converter station was inched onto its supporting platform. The 320 kilovolt unit, with an 800 megawatt power transmission capacity, will take alternating current from three offshore wind farms and transmit it as high voltage direct current to the mainland. Pictures of the operation alone, which required the world’s largest crane ship, look nail biting: imagine being there!

If it wasn’t HVDC, it was charging technology for assorted electric vehicles that made ABB’s other dominant technology story of the year. Flash charging for electric buses in just 15 seconds; helping the Netherlands go green via the world’s largest national network of electric vehicle fast charging stations were just two of the group’s high tech headlines.

It was little Estonia which first selected ABB to supply its national charging network for electric vehicles. The Netherlands followed; now Denmark. Tomorrow the world?

Editor’s note: this article was written by freelance writer Haig Simonian and published by Ilona Braverman. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of ABB or its employees. 

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About the author

Ilona Braverman

I am the Newsroom Manager with the corporate communications team. Prior to moving to Zurich, I spent over a decade writing, producing, marketing and production coordinating for Fox News in New York City. When I am not working, or enjoying all of the beautiful cities around me, I am busy dancing, cooking or probably making everyone around me howl with laughter.
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