With the expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate the latest generation of super-sized container ships, there’s been a boom in construction and retrofit work at North American ports and the intermodal facilities that handle the transfer of containers from ships to freight lines and trucks. To get a bigger piece of this action, the Cary, N.C.-based unit of ABB announced today that it will acquire San Diego-based APS Technology Group (APS) to add optical character recognition (OCR) and gate automation capabilities to further improve safety, productivity and efficiency of port operations as containerized shipping grows worldwide.
According to the press release announcing the acquisition, APS, is an 11-year-old, 50-person company with offices in San Diego and Long Beach, Calif., and will join ABB's Crane and Harbor automation business. "As containerized shipping grows, container handling in ports and terminals is quickly moving away from manual controls to fully automated systems," Fred Hoonaard, head of Crane and Harbor Center of Excellence,” said in the release. "Bringing visual, or OCR, technology to containers, trucks and gates gets us one step closer to delivering ship-to-gate automation that increases productivity and reduces accidents while saving time and money."
ABB estimates that the global terminal automation market will double in five years and says it’s already a top terminal crane automation company, having delivered automation systems to more than half the world's automated container terminals. It provides a range of automation and electric grid products and services to marine industries, including shore-to-ship electric power for idling ships' engines at ports to lower cost and emissions. Zurich-based ABB has invested more than $11 billion in the last three years in U.S. companies. In North America, ABB employs more than 30,000 people, including about 20,000 in the United States. Globally, ABB employs about 145,000. Details