Orlando, Fla. — Orders are up 6 percent, and the integration of B&R Industrial Automation GmbH is on track for the Swiss engineering group ABB Ltd.
ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer has declared "the transition year 2017 is behind us" when the company reported a $572 million profit on sales of $8.6 billion for the first quarter of 2018 and growth in all divisions.
B&R, which was acquired for an undisclosed price in April 2017, joined ABB's industrial automation division to form a global Machine and Factory Automation business unit expected to reach a midterm revenue target of $1 billion.
At NPE2018, the company showed early results of what the new business unit can do. ABB wants to strengthens its position in the No. 2 spot behind German rival Siemens in the processing and industrial sector.
The acquisition, which was close to $2 billion, according to Reuters and Bloomberg, combined Eggelsberg, Austria-based B&R's software and products for modern machines and factory automation with Zurich-based ABB's robotics, process automation, digitalization and electrification.
To support the integration, ABB announced earlier this year that it will build a $123 million research center and training campus to develop technologies for factories of the future at the B&R headquarters site in Eggelsberg. The center will be operational in 2020, and ABB says it will better position the company to serve the $20 billion machine and factory automation market segment.
In the plastics industry, demand is growing for ways to adapt to high-mix, low-volume manufacturing as the shift from mass production to mass customization continues for processors, Helen Ke Feng, ABB's global industry segment manager for plastics and rubber, told Plastics News.