On Tuesday, Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB (NYSE:ABB) announced that it will acquire privately held San Diego-based optical character recognition, or OCR, company APS Technology Group "to further improve safety, productivity, and efficiency of port operations as containerized shipping grows worldwide." ABB intends to incorporate APS into its Crane and Harbor automation business.

Predicting that the global terminal automation market will double in size over the next five years, ABB intends to facilitate the move toward "fully automated" transfer of cargoes from container ships to ports. It will do this, in part, by using computerized OCR to read the labels on containers and get them where they need to be -- without the direct involvement of humans along the way.

Shareholders are responding positively to the acquisition. Despite no release of financial specifics about the acquisition, ABB shares finished the day up 0.14%. 

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