Our markets

As a pioneering technology leader serving the utilities, industry, and transport & infrastructure markets, ABB is at the heart of the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. The Energy Revolution encompasses a shift toward low carbon energy generation, including a dramatic increase in wind and solar generation capacity; a major shift toward distributed generation as opposed to centralized generation systems, whereby consumers also become producers, or prosumers, of energy; and finally the introduction of smart grids that will enable more efficient use of energy. The number of feed-in points from solar and wind is expected to continue to multiply, and transmissions are increasingly covering longer distances. At the same time, electricity demand is anticipated to rise, due to the accelerating take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) and significant increases in data storage needs. As a result, electrical systems are expected to require new equipment, technology and smart solutions to ensure that electricity supply remains reliable and secure.

In addition to the shifts in the energy market, digitalization is driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution and touches upon all our customer segments, creating sizeable new market opportunities. More than 55 percent of ABB products are already digitalized and offer connectivity. With the end-markets ABB serves still at an early stage of digitalization, including automotive, food and beverage, rail, buildings, oil and gas, chemicals, marine, utilities, and other discrete markets, ABB expects the demand for connected devices from the company’s existing customer base to grow significantly in the coming years.

ABB Ability™ is the company’s unified, cross-industry digital portfolio, extending from device to edge to cloud on an open architecture platform. ABB Ability™ provides over 210 solutions utilizing latest software technologies, including artificial intelligence, to improve productivity, security, safety and reliability, ultimately unlocking value for customers. ABB Ability™ solutions cover the entire life-cycle of assets, from planning and building to performance management. ABB Ability™ is a globally recognized market leader for control systems for process industries and for utility and mining-related asset management software. ABB also has a leading offering in connected services, for example remote monitoring services for robots, motors and machinery and remote control solutions for buildings, EV charging networks and offshore platforms. Some of the more specialized offerings address energy management for data centers and navigation optimization and automation for maritime shipping fleets.

Utilities Market

ABB focuses on delivering solutions that match the changing needs of utility customers with a complete offering for transmission and distribution. The Energy Revolution opens up numerous opportunities, and more than 30 percent of the market ABB operates in are high-growth segments within the sector, such as grid automation, high-voltage direct current (HVDC), software, grid control systems and micro-grids. Generation, transmission and distribution are being unbundled, long-standing monopolies now have competitors and new entrants (e.g. pension funds, insurance funds, project developers) are investing in the sector. Many traditional utilities have reinvented themselves; some now focus purely on renewables, others on providing additional energy services to the consumers they serve.

Utilities continued to make selective investments in 2018, adding new capacity in emerging markets, upgrading aging power infrastructure in mature markets and integrating new renewable energy capacity globally. They are also investing in automation and control solutions to enhance the stability of the grid and thus demand for services, including ABB Ability™ solutions, gained traction during the year.

ABB won orders in several key geographies, including Australia and New Zealand, to upgrade the control and protection system of existing HVDC links with advanced digitalization technologies. In addition, ABB was awarded multiple orders for ABB Ability™ digital substations, for example, to upgrade the world’s largest substation in Belarus. A significant framework agreement for grid integration and automation solutions was also won from Ørsted, the Danish power company currently installing the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom’s North Sea.

Industry Market

ABB serves production facilities and factories all around the world from process to discrete industries with a comprehensive automation portfolio including robotics. Industry customers are diverse in nature and may be publicly traded or privately held companies. Automation and digitalized solutions that achieve improved safety, uptime, energy efficiency and productivity are the intended hallmarks of ABB’s offerings in this customer segment. The need for cutting-edge solutions to improve industrial performance continued to be an important demand driver for industry in 2018.

Investments in 2018 in robotics and machinery automation solutions from the automotive sector, notably for new EV manufacturing lines, from the food and beverage sector and other industries remained positive. Process industries, especially oil and gas, invested more in 2018 than in the prior year, although investments remained selective and concentrated on service and productivity improvements.

In robotics specifically, ABB’s customer markets are successfully expanding into new market areas, for example, the logistics sector and small and medium size enterprises, particularly in the AMEA region.

Transport & Infrastructure Market

ABB’s expertise provides efficient and reliable solutions for transport & infrastructure customers. We believe our offerings are key to transport customers that are focused on energy efficiency and reduced operating costs. Other major growth drivers for this customer segment are urbanization, the move to electrify transportation, and growth in data centers.

Demand in transport and infrastructure markets was solid in 2018. Demand for building automation solutions as well as solutions involving energy efficiency continued, while activity for specialty vessels, particularly cruise ships, was strong over the period. In rail, ABB won orders worth over $100 million from Swiss train manufacturer Stadler to supply traction equipment for more than 160 trains serving urban, regional and long distance routes in Europe and the United States. Demand for hyper-scale data center solutions was strong during 2018, especially from U.S. and European based customers.

The development of EV charging markets accelerated sharply during 2018. ABB received multiple orders from customers in several countries across Europe and North America for EV charging infrastructure, including for the company’s newest high voltage direct current (DC) fast-charging station, the Terra HP. ABB now has more than 6,500 DC fast-charging stations installed in 60 countries.

As a pioneering technology leader, we serve utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure customers through our business divisions. These markets and our divisions are discussed in more detail below. Revenue figures presented in the following Business divisions section are before interdivisional eliminations.