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ABB shifts work here, more jobs seen coming

South Boston News
Inside the ABB plant in South Boston / November 09, 2017
Swiss technology giant ABB announced plans Monday to halt production of power transformers at its St. Louis plant and move the work to company facilities in South Boston and Crystal Springs, Miss., bringing an unspecified number of new jobs to each site.

Christopher Shigas, ABB’s director of media relations in the U.S., declined to say how many jobs may result from the changes, but in addition to shifting power transformer production from St. Louis, “ABB will establish new traction transformer manufacturing operations to serve the rail industry at its South Boston unit,” Shigas said.

The company’s restructuring will be realized in 2018 and the move will help ABB serve its customers “more efficiently while bringing economies of scale and enhancing competitiveness,” Shigas said.

In a company statement reported Tuesday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ABB said it will be adding jobs in South Boston and at facilities in India and China, with more than 500 positions being created over the next two years. Company officials did not specify how many of those jobs would be in South Boston.

“ABB remains fully committed to conducting business and manufacturing in the United States as evidenced by the investment of almost $13 billion in the United States since 2010,” Shigas said.

In its press release announcing the restructuring, the company said similar consolidation efforts are also taking place in ABB’s European operations. In Europe, production of traction transformers will be consolidated in Lodz, Poland, which will become the main manufacturing hub for rail customers in the region.

ABB plans to continue manufacturing prototypes and smaller quantities at its facility in Geneva, which will remain the center of excellence for this technology and be an innovation center for energy efficiency and sustainable mobility solutions. Capacity will also be expanded for power and distribution transformers at the Lodz unit, bringing economies of scale and making it a major transformer hub for ABB.

In Asia, Middle East and Africa, to serve growing market needs and enhance customer proximity, ABB will expand its traction transformer operations in India, supporting the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The company will also invest in upgrading its Datong traction transformer facility in China to improve efficiency and meet growing demand.

Earlier this year, ABB inaugurated a new traction transformer facility in South Africa, in line with the government’s local procurement requirements.

“This footprint optimization will enhance competitiveness and strengthen ABB’s global leadership in transformers by better aligning the business to reflect changing market dynamics,” said Claudio Facchin, President of ABB’s Power Grids division. “The realignment is part of our ‘Power Up’ transformation program and ABB’s Next Level strategy.”

ABB, which has been around for more than 125 years, is considered a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport and infrastructure globally. The company operates in more than 100 countries with about 136,000 employees.

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What great news. If the number of new jobs is 50 or 500, this is a win, win for Halifax County. So if the jobs go to local residents or if employees move to South Boston, well South Boston is ready, plenty of good priced houses, plenty of room now for elementary and high school students, and a community that is going to welcome the jobs. And these will be good jobs with great benefits and a future to advance. So, this Thanksgiving we can all give thanks to ABB/Westinghouse and to the local officials that worked this deal.

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