IBM and ABB, two companies with a major presence in the Research Triangle, are partnering to bring IBM Watson cognitive computing solutions for Internet of Things usage on factory floors, across utilities, smart grids and more.

“Watson can inspect parts up to five times faster than production line workers and even detect faults not visible to the human eye, according to IBM,” reports Network World. “Learning from human classification of defects in images, Watson is able to spot scratches and pinholes.”

ABB, a global provider of industrial and power solutions, sees many benefits in bringing Watson to the factory floor.

“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, analyze, optimize and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer in a statement.

“With an installed base of 70 million connected devices, 70,000 digital control systems and 6,000 enterprise software solutions, ABB is a trusted leader in the industrial space, and has a four decade long history of creating digital solutions for customers. IBM is a leader in artificial intelligence and cognitive computing. Together, IBM and ABB will create powerful solutions for customers to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

First two targets are factory floor utilization and smart grids, the companies declared Tuesday. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

ABB’s Power Grids unit at NCSU’s Centennial Campus employs some 500 people. Its Ability team is based in Silicon Valley.

  • VIDEO: Watch a video about the partnership at

The expansion of Internet of Things-linked devices is spreading rapidly across a variety of industries with millions of devices being linked to transmit data and enable remote operations.

ABB and IBM. which operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP, see their collaboration as driving more usage for ABB’s own Ability solutions in conjunction with Watson’s powerful supercomputer-driven technology.

The two firms believe their offerings can help clients:

  • Improve quality control
  • Reduce downtime
  • Increase production speed and yield

“These solutions will move beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, to cognitive industrial machines that use data to understand, sense, reason and take actions supporting industrial workers to help eliminate inefficient processes and redundant tasks,” the companies said.

An example would be using ABB and IBM’s Watson’s “to help find defects via real-time production images that are captured through an ABB system, and then analyzed using IBM Watson IoT for Manufacturing.”

“This important collaboration with ABB will take Watson even deeper into industrial applications — from manufacturing, to utilities, to transportation and more,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, president and CEO, in the announcement.

“The data generated from industrial companies’ products, facilities and systems holds the promise of exponential advances in innovation, efficiency and safety. Only with Watson’s broad cognitive capabilities and our platform’s unique support for industries can this vast new resource be turned into value, with trust. We are eager to work in partnership with ABB on this new industrial era.