IBM is teaming up with engineering and manufacturing giant ABB to develop industrial artificial intelligence (AI) products for end users.
The new products will bring together ABB's Ability platform with IBM's Watson Internet of Things (IoT) cognitive capabilities, with the first two products focusing on "real-time cognitive insights" on the factory floor and in so-called smart grids.
IBM and Switzerland-based ABB hope that the new products will help companies to address some of their biggest industrial challenges, such as improving quality control, reducing downtime and increasing the speed and yield of industrial processes.
For example, the two technology companies want to use AI to help find defects using real-time production images that are captured through an ABB system, and then analysed using IBM Watson IoT for Manufacturing. They claimed that, previously, these inspections were done manually, which was often a cumbersome and error-prone process.
The vendors hope that manufacturing companies will be better equipped to increase the volume flowing through their production lines, while at the same time improving accuracy and consistency by using the new product.
In terms of smart grids, ABB and IBM said they would use Watson to better predict patterns in electricity generation and demand from historical and weather data.
This would be used to help utility companies to forecast demand. Other sources of data, such as temperature, sunshine and wind speed, would be used to help customers with load management and pricing in real-time.
"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, analyse, optimise and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers," said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, meanwhile, said that the collaboration with ABB would take Watson "even deeper into industrial applications", including manufacturing, utilities and transport.
"The data generated from industrial companies' products, facilities and systems holds the promise of exponential advanced in innovation, efficiency and safety," she said.
IBM has made several big announcements over the past year focusing on IoT and Watson, in particular. In October 2016, it announced a $200m investment in its global Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, Germany.
In November, it released industry-specific IBM Watson IoT offerings for manufacturing, automotive, electronics and insurance. It has also launched what it claimed was the first global IoT solutions practice, featuring 1,500 'experts' across nine of its IoT centres across Asia, Europe and the Americas.
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