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ABB Acquires Optical Sensor Company

The deal will expand the company's smart water management portfolio.

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ZURICH, Switzerland — ABB announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire Canadian company Real Tech, a leading supplier of innovative optical sensor technology that enables real-time water monitoring and testing.

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.

Financial terms of the transaction that is expected to close in Q1 2024 were not disclosed.

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

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. Leveraging the power of light, the sensors measure water composition. They use spectrophotometry and fluorescence measuring techniques to move testing from the lab to the process environment for real-time use. Liquid AI, a proprietary AI software platform, completes the service offering, providing an easy and accurate way to analyze data from Real Tech sensors.

The company has approximately 40 employees and is based in Whitby, Ontario.

“We are excited to welcome all our new colleagues to the ABB family,” said Jacques Mulbert, division president, ABB Measurement & Analytics. “We look forward to jointly driving the innovation and growth journey of Real Tech. 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.”

“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,” said Jodi Glover, CEO and co-founder of Real Tech. “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.”

According to the UN, 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% of the world’s treated wastewater is reused and around half of the world’s untreated wastewater still enters rivers, lakes and seas. 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 U.S., an unprecedented $111 billion is being invested in upgrading water infrastructure over a 10-year period.

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