ABB Process Industries: Strengthening Recession-Proof Businesses in Southeast Asia


ABB (NYSE: ABB), a global leader in automation and digitalization, remains committed to helping industries in Indonesia and Southeast Asia build recession-proof businesses through sustainable automation solutions. As industrial automation gathers increased momentum post-pandemic, global technology provider ABB is supporting companies as they digitalize, expand and reduce costs. ABB appointed Pierre Leretz as the Local Business Line Manager of Process Industries Southeast Asia to bring his perspectives and experience to the table. In an interview, Leretz shared his vision for the company and the importance of building recession-proof businesses through sustainable automation.

Sustainable automation, the key to recession-proof growth

According to a study, the Asian Industry 4.0 is expected to reach a CAGR of 21.6 percent from 2018 to 2028. Companies in this region are piloting Industry 4.0 principles or automating their industrial processes to use modern, connected technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT). The government has established the Making Indonesia 4.0 initiative as an integrated roadmap to implement several strategies in Indonesia. While in Malaysia, the government has also developed a series of initiatives under Industry4WRD to encourage companies in the country to embrace the adoption of 4.0 technologies. Furthermore, the Singaporean government has implemented support measures to promote Industry 4.0, such as easy ownership transfer, tax exemptions, etc. Many governments back Industry 4.0, and it is consistently rising to transform business operations in Southeast Asia. Yet, despite this growth, there are still concerns over the resilience of specific manufacturing sectors following a continual slowdown in economic activity as overseas demand cools. Industries likely to be affected include food and beverage, chemicals, mining, metals, and cement.

As part of the company’s three-year plan ending in 2025, ABB is focused on growing its Southeast Asia operations to serve its customers better. Leretz said: “We have a responsibility to our customers to show them we have all the resources needed to help them execute projects, then follow up with service and maintenance activities. As we grow our installed base, we must grow our regional teams too.”

A key priority for ABB is the development of a centralized service infrastructure. By integrating all regional technical resources under one roof and distributing them regionally, ABB will provide faster response times and enhanced customer competency availability. Leretz highlighted the benefits of this approach: “This group of service engineers will then be managed centrally but be distributed regionally. This will make the response time and competency availability much more at the disposal of our customers.”

Leretz emphasized that Southeast Asian companies face two significant challenges: environmental responsibility and increased productivity. He explained: “So the two major challenges are first their responsible attitude with environmental issues and energy efficiency topics, while the second is productivity increase to overcome shortages in world markets.”

To help address these challenges, ABB is collaborating with its customers to develop roadmaps for GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions reduction and energy efficiency while providing advanced automation solutions to boost production capabilities. Leretz shared the company’s role in this process: “At each step, ABB is here to collaborate with our customers to reach their goals. Energy efficiency is a daily topic that I speak about with all of my customers.”

According to Leretz, automation is the key to empowering industries in Southeast Asia to develop recession-proof businesses. “We follow an ideology of lean, safe and clean with our customers. It helps our customers remain lean and therefore financially strong when there is a downturn, safe as human errors are mitigated as much as possible and clean as our customers’ processes are fine-tuned to avoid waste and therefore protect the planet,” he explained.

ABB’s advanced digital solutions, which utilize artificial intelligence (AI), provide companies with plant information to make informed decisions. Leretz emphasized the importance of these solutions: “The advanced digital solutions of ABB further help reduce the OPEX at the customer side as these solutions help them do as much work, if not more, with even fewer resources.”

Leretz highlighted the importance of working closely with customers in various industries, such as pulp and paper, mining, data centers, and food and beverage, to help them meet their environmental, energy efficiency, and productivity commitments. He also noted the value of ABB’s engineers in this process: “Our customers know our engineers know their processes well. Most engineers worked at our Customers’ Plants for years before coming to ABB.”

Fostering a resilient industry through sustainable automation across Southeast Asia

With a rich history of working with ABB since 1999 and a strong belief in respect, collaboration, hard work, and discipline, Leretz is eager to take on his new role and contribute to the company’s growth in the Southeast Asian market. When asked about his motivation for taking on this new position, Leretz explained: “I think I can say without hesitation that the attraction I have for the philosophy of this region is the first point. Values are the most important thing in my life. I believe in respect, collaboration, hard work, and discipline. I find all these values in the Southeast Asian culture.”

Leretz’s determination to learn and discover new geographies and industries is also a driving force behind his decision to become Southeast Asia’s Local Business Line Manager. He shared, “My knowledge of the region was limited, while now I am discovering it in detail. I was responsible for Process Automation earlier but not as detailed as today in the recent specialization by Business lines.”

His passion for continuous learning is evident, as Leretz mentioned, “To illustrate to you my curiosity and learning need, I went back to school at the age of 57 to do a Master of Science in Innovation at HEC France.”

During his tenure with ABB, Leretz has seen the company evolve constantly and adapt to market changes. Reflecting on his accomplishments, he stated, “Among the proudest accomplishments, I can mention the numerous people who reported to me that I advised to take up other positions that lead them to a successful career. It is important to know you help people have a better future, and at the same time, it sends a message that I support the development of people in my organization.”

As ABB continues to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia, it remains dedicated to providing advanced automation solutions that help businesses become more resilient, environmentally friendly, and efficient. By fostering solid relationships with its customers and understanding their unique needs, ABB is well-positioned to help industries in the region overcome challenges and thrive in an ever-changing global market.

ABB’s Process Automation business automates, electrifies, and digitalizes industrial operations that address a wide range of essential needs – from supplying energy, water and materials, to producing goods and transporting them to market. With its ~20,000 employees, leading technology and service expertise, ABB Process Automation helps customers in process, hybrid and maritime industries improve performance and safety of operations, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future.

ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered, and operated. Building on more than 130 years of excellence, ABB’s 105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation.


Ann Dunkin, Lucien Engelen and Shafi Ahmed to headline the speaker list at IOT Solutions World Congress 2022


The IOT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC), the largest international event devoted to industry transformation through disruptive technologies, will hold its sixth edition from May 10 to 12 and will feature over 200 experts in industrial digitalization in its congress program.

Among the speakers is Ann Dunkin, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the US Department of Energy and author of Industrial Digital Transformation: Accelerate digital transformation with business optimization, AI, and Industry 4.0. In 2016 she was named one of ComputerWorld’s Premier 100 Technology Leaders, and one of Washington DC’s Top 50 Women in Technology in 2015 and 2016.

With a wide experience of the Healthcare industry, Lucien Engelen looks at how new technologies can change patient care models in the context of rising demand for healthcare, shortages of skilled staff and restrictive budgets. He is a faculty member of Exponential Medicine at Singularity University and has advised many companies in business transformation.

The crossroads between sport and technology will be the main focus of the conference of Albert Mundet, Director of the Barça Innovation Hub at FC Barcelona. Mundet will explain how the football club is using Digital Twins to enhance visitors’ experience at the Camp Nou.

Healthcare and technology innovation is the domain of Shafi Ahmed, a colorectal surgeon at The Royal London and St Bartholomew’s Hospitals. A multi award-winning surgeon, teacher, futurist and innovator, Dr. Ahmed has explored the use of augmented and virtual reality as tools to improve healthcare delivery and teaching.

Organised by Fira de Barcelona in partnership with the Industrial Internet Consortium®, IOTSWC will structure its congress program in five horizontal tracks: Business Optimization Solutions, Artificial Intelligence Solutions, Connectivity Solutions, Security Solutions and Customer Experience Solutions. The Congress program will also feature speakers from Airbus; Buhler Group; Johnson&Johnson; Konecranes; Lego Group, Siemens, Toshiba and Volkswagen Group.

Industry transformation reimagined
The event will showcase the solutions of 310 exhibiting companies including ABB, Altair, Amazon Web Services, BrainCube, Crowdstrike, Deloitte, Device Authority, EMnify, Faircom Corporation, Fiware, Hornet Security, Huawei, Kaspersky, KNX, Libellium, Palo Alto, Richardson RFPD, Relayr, Siemens, Sternum and Trellix, TXOne Networks. All of them will display examples of how the Internet of Things, Artificial intelligence, Digital Twins, Augmented and Vistrual Reality, Blockchain and other technologies have the potential to transform entire businesses.