ABB Extends Automation Platform, Collaboration Tools

A New Global Order Is in the Making

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The theme of the 2008 ABB Automation World conference and exhibition is “The Power of Collaboration,” and the term applies not only to what the individuals and organizations gathered this week in Houston can accomplish together, but also to the performance gains possible through the integration of the various systems used in today’s complex manufacturing processes.

“A new global order is in the making.” In the closing keynote address at ABB Automation World this week in Houston, Ravi Uppal, ABB president of global markets and chairman of ABB India, stressed the increased importance of collaboration in a world where emerging economies are having “a profound impact on global business cycles.”
For ABB, the integration platform that makes this all possible is its IndustrialIT suite of software and system services, which was re-energized and repositioned several years ago with the System 800xA extended automation system at its core. 

In fact, at this week’s ABB Automation World, the company demonstrated many of the primary competencies of IndustrialIT  System 800xA, as well as several innovations. In the event’s IndustrialIT exhibit, ABB demonstrated that System 800xA is more than a distributed control system (DCS) and can perform more varied and sophisticated production planning, asset optimization, information and device management, operations and engineering tasks than ever before.

For example, the IndustrialIT experts demonstrated their 800xA Extended Operator Workplace that includes moveable screens, desks and platforms to meet users’ ergonomic preferences and also can display all of an application’s IndustrialIT data on a 3-ft x 9-ft curved screen. This solution is presently used by 30 customers in mining, refining, oil platforms and steel applications. Users can zoom in on individual sections of the largest displays and use common aspects lists on highly detailed individual device faceplate representations to perform preventive maintenance and troubleshoot and diagnose problems.

“This workplace gives users the best tools for making the right decisions at the right time because it gets everyone on the same page,” said Jan Lagnelov, global product manager for ABB’s 800xA operations. “And avoiding one shutdown by using this system can pay for it.”

In the first of its two main 800xA and IndustrialIT releases at Automation World, ABB launched its IndustrialIT cpmPlus Smart Client, which is part of its Collaborative Production Management suite. This thin client helps process users securely access their automation systems via an Internet browser for real-time visibility into their process from any location, as long as a connection such as via a virtual private network (VPN) to the plant exists.

The cpmPlus Smart Client seamlessly retrieves data from ABB’s System 800xA and connected third-party systems and then displays this information in the user’s preferred format to facilitate informed decisions and quick, appropriate actions to improve performance. In addition to browser-based graphical displays, Smart Client also provides trending and statistical process control, alarm and event reporting, and a Microsoft Excel interface. So where users previously had to write code and do programming to reach these data and move them to displays, this whole process is now drag-and- drop and lets users easily tailor their own applications. Besides allowing automatic work order generation, cpmPlus even publishes to SAP and other enterprise applications via an OPC layer.

“cpmPlus uses portals to take consolidated information and present visual key performance indicators, including production, consumption, material used, plant section data, actual and targeted results and financial impacts,” said Dejan Milenovic, development and technology manager for ABB’s process automation division.

Smart Client also provides intelligent data access and viewing functions in a user-friendly, browser-based display to assist all levels of personnel when they need a real-time window into their operations when they’re offsite. These displays can be launched from any standard Internet browser. Smart Client incorporates the same system-wide authorization settings as System 800xA, ensuring data security and integrity.

“Smart Client makes it easier for users to access and share information they need,” said Rauli Hantikainen, VP for ABB’s Collaborative Production Management business. “In addition to access, it harnesses System 800xA’s single-point change management and engineering in a browser-based thin client to give our customers the data integrity and trusted information they need to be able see their production situation and then act quickly to maintain their competitive edge.”

Also, Smart Client offers several other productivity benefits:

  • Simplified display configuration requires no programming. Displays are configured using display components and drag-and-drop information from System 800xA’s property browser, making it ready to use and easy to understand.
  • Elimination of duplicate engineering by using the existing data definitions resident in System 800xA. Unlike other thin clients that require separate information definitions, all information—including upper and lower limits—is defined once in System 800xA and then made seamlessly available inside Smart Client.
  • System 800xA’s single point of change management ensures that all updates are automatically reproduced throughout the system, so that any information viewed via Smart Client reflects the up-to-the minute system context, status and process conditions.
  • Information from multiple 800xA systems can be viewed and accessed via any Internet browser, regardless of physical or geographic location.
  • Increased tag counts don’t incur additional costs, making cpmPlus Smart Client an affordable way to expand view-only remote-access capabilities for System 800xA.
  • Smart Client is a core component of cpmPlus, which provides process and production management, advanced optimization and connectivity solutions for the process industries.

In its second release, ABB unveiled its IndustrialIT cpmPlus Loop Performance Manager (LPM), which also is part of Collaborative Production Management. LPM is expert software used to collect, optimize, tune and monitor the performance of a control loops. It uses leading-edge technology and ABB’s expertise to improve control system efficiency, resulting in a direct positive impact on profitability of the overall process.

cpmPlus LPM combines three tools in one package, including:

  • Loop Auditing, which detects underperforming control loops;
  • Loop Tuning, to improve the tuning of the loops;
  • Plantwide Disturbance Analysis, which looks for oscillation patterns in the plant and then searches the root cause of these oscillations, such as a loop that’s underperforming.

“LPM has a significant impact on plant operations,” added Hantikainen. “We’ve seen surveys from industry analysts that show the performance of almost half of the control loops they looked at were rated as poor or fair, more than two-thirds had problems with sticky valves, and a significant percentage had problems with oscillations. LPM can detect these and suggest improvements and remedies, which can lead to real bottom-line savings in the plant operation.”

In addition, LPM provides open, flexible analysis of systems. It works with virtually any PID type, either from ABB or other vendors, works with online or off-line data, and can use either open- or closed-loop data. LPM can be configured to provide continuous 24/7 auditing of systems to ensure that loops continue to provide a high level of performance over time. LPM also can be used as a complete plant-wide analysis tool that can identify loops with similar oscillation problems and help track down the root cause.

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