ABB funds research projects at top universities in China and abroad

  • Project aims to develop advanced alarm system to improve efficiency of large-scale industrial process alarms
  • ABB Group’s Corporate Research Center in China has invested around ten million yuan over three years to facilitate cooperation with universities

  • Beijing, May 22, 2014 – ABB, the global leader in power and automation technology, and three universities, including Tsinghua University, the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia, signed an agreement today to fund their joint research project entitled "Advanced alarm design and monitoring of large-scale industrial processes.” Together, the four parties will share research and development results.

    Process plant operators are often inundated with far more alarms than what is deemed safe by various international standards. A majority of these alarms are not critical and do not immediately lead to catastrophic events. However, they make the operators disturbed frequently and unable to take timely actions on the critical alarms which may cause serious safety issue and economic losses in large-scale industrial processes. Tsinghua University will jointly conduct research with two universities in Canada on this topic to explore possible solutions.

    This project along with a "Robot configuration selection for 3C industry" project at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology were both chosen by ABB Research Grant program for funding in 2014. ABB Research Grant program received more than 350 research proposals from over 200 universities of more than 40 countries. Only 14 research projects were eventually granted, and these two projects will be ranked among them.

    In the project at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, researchers focused on automated assembly solutions in the consumer electronics industry, researching and analyzing the most suitable assembly robot design (configuration, size, etc.), helping ABB robots in this industry to become more competitive.

    Qianjin Liu, head of ABB Group’s Corporate Research Center in China and Chief Technology Officer of ABB (China) Limited, said: "Cooperation between corporations and universities is one of the ways ABB pushes forward technology research and innovation. Over the years, ABB has provided funding or technical personnel to join forces with the excellent teams at domestic universities to conduct research on topics at the forefront of the power and automation industry."

    From 1998 to 2002, ABB worked together with Tsinghua University and Tianjin University to build two greenhouse gas chemistry labs to study ways to mitigate environmental pollution in China. This was the first time ABB funded research projects at domestic universities. Since then, ABB has cooperated with Tsinghua University on comprehensive research in grid safety, isolating equipment, robot control and other fields. In 2013, ABB also provided complete electrical solutions to support Tsinghua to participate in the "International Solar Decathlon Competition."

    Tsinghua University is one of the universities with whom ABB cooperates. Since 2010, ABB’s Corporate Research Center in China has invested around ten million yuan in 28 research projects with 16 domestic universities and research institutions, including Zhejiang University, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Chinese Academy of Sciences. The projects covered different areas of power and automation technology, including industrial robots, new energy, electric vehicle charging, nanotechnology and other topics at the forefront of industrial applications.

    Some examples from domestic research projects funded by ABB just last year include Zhejiang University’s Professor Xiong Rong's research, entitled "Learning from demonstration based system for small parts assembly", which focused on industrial robot programming technology research, as well as the "Controllability of renewable using energy storage technologies," by researchers at Huazhong University of Science, which seeks to take advantage of energy storage technology to overcome the intermittent and uncontrollable nature of renewables. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University also conducted research on "Electric vehicle integration Study," which determines potential load on the power grid by using statistical analysis so that the impact of large-scale vehicle charging can be minimized.

    As one of ABB Group’s seven corporate research centers, the Corporate Research Center in China was established in early 2005, according to local business needs and the company’s global strategy. Two major research laboratories were established in Beijing and Shanghai respectively focusing on power and automation areas, including research on new energy grid technology, outdoor insulation, small parts assembly and other topics. Currently, ABB has more than 2,000 research and development professionals in China dedicated to local R&D and innovation.

    ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 150,000 people. ABB has a full range of business activities in China, including R&D, manufacturing, sales and services, with 19,000 employees, 37 local companies, and an extensive sales and service network across 109 cities.

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