Biggish Blue has teamed up with a Swiss engineering company in a cunning plan to ramp up its presence in digital technology and the internet of things.
In a joint statement, ABB said it would combine its digital offering, which gathers information from machinery, with IBM’s expertise in artificial intelligence featured in its Watson data analytics software. The two companies will jointly develop and sell new products.
ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement that the glorious alliance was a powerful combination which marks 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, analyse, optimise and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers.
Instead of manual machinery inspections, ABB and IBM intend to use Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time images collected by an ABB system, and then analysed using IBM Watson.
ABB has identified digital technology as a growth driver. It now gets around 55 percent of sales from digitally enabled products.
It has previously signed a deal with Microsoft to roll out digital products for customers in the robotics, marine and ports, electric vehicles and renewable energy sectors.
Big Blue said it will cooperate with the European Union and other organisations to design tech that will help prevent important infrastructure computer systems from falling over.
The areas the EU is concerned about include nuclear power plants, transport, electric grids, and water.
IBM somewhat understates this saying “the consequences of a glitch in system upgrades can be global and costly”. As these infrastructures are more and more governed by digital systems, detecting potential bugs in the software before disaster happens would be jolly useful.
IBM and the EU will build technology and share its research with the open source community.
The project is called Pincette, French for tweezers, the idea being that the tech will pick out small software bugs and cut on the cost of maintaining system software by auto testing software.
Parners in the venture include IBM Research in Haifa, the University of Oxford, Universita della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, Universita’ degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Valtion Teknillinen Tutkimuskeskus (VTT) in Finland, Israel Aerospace Industries, and ABB.
The EU will fund the Pincette venture although how much it is contributing doesn’t seem to be clear. VTT in Finland will use Pincette to guarantee robots monitoring thermo-nuclear reactors will work properly. This is a 30 year project also funded by the EU with the aim of replacing nuclear reactors with “clean” machines using atomic fusion. Pincette is here.