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ABB to acquire Canada's Real Tech for optical sensing

09 Jan 2024

Ontario-headquartered firm has developed spectrophotometry and fluorescence techniques for real-time monitoring of water.

Swiss engineering giant ABB has agreed a deal to acquire Real Tech, a company in Canada that has developed optical sensors for real-time monitoring of water quality.

Headquartered in Whitby, Ontario, and employing 40 people, Real Tech supplies spectrophotometry and fluorescence analysis equipment that allows water quality monitoring to move from laboratory testing to the process environment.

“Through the acquisition, ABB will expand its strong presence in the water segment and complement its product portfolio with optical technology critical for smart water management,” ABB announced, although it did not reveal any financial terms relating to the transaction - only that is expected to close before the end of March.

Better process control
“Unlike traditional water quality measurement, which can be a time-consuming process, Real Tech’s product portfolio provides critical measurements in real-time,” added ABB.

“This enables better process control and continuous water quality assurance. Real Tech’s patented solutions cover the entire digital water value chain for water quality monitoring with a focus on data creation and analytics.”

According to ABB, Real Tech’s portfolio includes optical sensors, controllers, and a suite of optional accessories that allow each system to be configured according to customer needs.

It includes the firm’s “Liquid AI” software platform, which is said to provide an easy and accurate way to analyze data from Real Tech sensors.

Jacques Mulbert, the president of ABB’s “Measurement & Analytics” division, commented: “Joining forces with ABB will accelerate the deployment of Real Tech's technologies through the vast ABB global sales and service network, making a step change in access to market.

“The acquisition is an important part of ABB Measurement & Analytics’ strategy, which includes adding advanced environmental technologies to the portfolio.”

Wastewater management
Jodi Glover, the CEO and co-founder of Real Tech, added: “When we founded Real Tech almost 20 years ago, we were set on developing optical sensor technology that would advance the management of water into a new era.

“Our real-time water quality monitoring sensors and data analytics capabilities are empowering our clients, both utilities and industries that manage water in their operation and manufacturing processes, with the critical insights they need every minute, every day. We look forward to becoming part of ABB with our shared vision to create a more sustainable future.”

In a Linkedin post, Glover added: “Building Real Tech to become the world’s most comprehensive optical sensor technology platform has been an incredible journey and the best is yet to come with our acquisition by ABB.”

ABB quotes United Nations figures showing that some 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water, while more than 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation.

At the same time, only 11 percent of the world’s treated wastewater is reused and around half of the world’s untreated wastewater still enters rivers, lakes, and seas, points out the firm.

“Advancements in water sensor technology and artificial intelligence can aid in efficient water and wastewater management. Investment in water quality monitoring, water treatment and water infrastructure has expanded dramatically worldwide.

“In the US, an unprecedented $111 billion is being invested in upgrading water infrastructure over a 10-year period.”

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