ABB South Africa shows strong investment in local economy in 2009

2010-02-20 - Demand for technology solutions resilient as country and industry upgrade ageing infrastructure.
JOHANNESBURG – 18 February 2010 - ABB South Africa, a subsidiary of the global power and automation technologies group, implemented its biggest investment programme in 2009, despite the economic downturn. The company modernised its operations with innovative technologies and processes to better position its business to serve the electricity power infrastructure expansion programme and the growing need in industry to increase competitiveness as electricity input costs rise.

“We performed well considering the tough economic conditions,” said Carlos Poñe, CEO of ABB South Africa. "Our customers continued to invest in world class technology to urgently upgrade ageing electricity infrastructure. Industrial customers invested in solutions to increase energy efficiency ahead of the new electricity price regime."

To accommodate its expansion in South Africa, ABB and developer Improvon invested R500 million in its new head office, manufacturing and logistics centre based at Longmeadow, Johannesburg, officially opened in November last year. The building, home to 1,000 employees, is one of the first designed from scratch to be energy efficient and makes extensive use of environmentally friendly technologies and architecture. It includes solar heating, grey water, on-site recycling and an H-design for greater use of sunlight. ABB has incorporated several of its products such as a building automation system, variable speed drives, high-efficiency motors and power factor correction.

The company's revenues were R3.1 billion against R3.3 in 2008, demonstrating the resilience of its technology offering required for modernising and expanding infrastructure and industrial plant. Orders were R3 billion compared to R4.4 billion in 2008, an extraordinary year for large project orders (one order was close to R1 billion) from the electricity power infrastructure programme, which came late in 2008.

In 2009, ABB South Africa's power business performed well with several power and transmission orders secured within Southern Africa. ABB won a R405 million order to improve power plant efficiency at three of Eskom's largest power plants and a R128 million order to increase power reliability for the City of Cape Town.

The automation business, slower because of lower demand in mining and construction, secured some large project orders and solid base product orders for automation equipment such as motors and drives. ABB’s service business grew with the award of a five-year full service contract with Sappi Cape Kraft Mill to develop the plant’s maintenance operation for greater production efficiency.

“We saw more of our customers looking to gain a competitive edge and shave costs, especially through the more efficient use of energy," said Poñe.

ABB continued to develop its core engineering skills through local and international training. The company also supported a programme to develop technical skills in Further Education and Training colleges.

A highlight during the year for ABB South Africa was hosting the inaugural Automation and Power World Africa 2009 conference and exhibition at its new premises. The event, the largest of its kind held on the continent attracted over 1,300 attendees, demonstrating the high interest in technology to increase infrastructure and industrial competitiveness.

Note to editors

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 120,000 people.

ABB South Africa, which is 20% owned by women’s empowerment company WIPHOLD (a Black empowerment investment made in 2002), manufactures and supplies power and automation technology products and specialises in electricity infrastructure and industrial automation projects. The company has manufacturing facilities in South Africa and employs more than 1,500 people.

Carlos Pone, CEO of ABB South Africa addresses members of the media.