The Future of Collaborative Production Management

ABB's New Way to Manage Manufacturing Assets Combines the Input of Suppliers, Universities and End Users

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ABB Automation & Power World 2010

ABB, along with several major universities and manufacturers, has started a collaborative project to develop a new way to manage manufacturing assets—all the way from the device to very complex assets. The project ties together all aspects of manufacturing, including economic assessments, asset performance, production and maintenance. This project combines the input of suppliers, universities and end users.

The result of this collaboration, presented this week at ABB Automation & Power World in Houston, thus far has created tools that real-world industrial users can employ to optimize manufacturing processes in collaborative production management (CPM).

"Customers don't want the technology," said Simo Säynevirta, head of CPM technology at ABB. "They want the real benefits of the technology. What academia brings to this collaboration is free thinking. They're not bound by the everyday concerns of profitability the way end users are. ABB's role is as a gatekeeper or moderator. The solution needs to be affordable and repeatable.

"Profitability coupled with safe and environmentally friendly operation is an overriding aspect of industrial processes. It is estimated that the petrochemical industry in the United States incurs approximately $20 billion in annual losses due to poor abnormal event management."

ABB has begun projects with some European universities. The Papyrus Consortium, for example, includes ABB, Finland's Stora Enso and France's Predict as industrial partners and university partners Aalto University School of Science and Technology in Finland, Université Henri Poincaré in France and Universität Duisburg-Essen in Germany. "We have set the problem to develop a new modular brainwork to optimize economic and asset performance," said Säynevirta. "And it must be done in such a way that the technology is affordable, and we're able to implement it on a large scale."

The need for a new approach to collaborative manufacturing across the different disciplines was dictated largely by economic conditions. "We are faced with certain challenges, such as the aging of the workforce and aging of the installed base," explained Säynevirta. "We have to be more efficient."

Other factors include tight environmental, safety and security requirements, greenfield installations and insufficient expertise, and increasing global competition.

"If you look at markets in Asia, there are lots of greenfield installations," said Säynevirta. "If you set up a greenfield facility in Asia, you need tools to achieve an efficient operation."

The rising demand for energy also creates a need for more optimal manufacturing practices. "Energy consumption is growing modestly in the established world and greatly in emerging areas," said Säynevirta. "Being energy-efficient is the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It's pretty obvious that in order for us to manage this, there's a multifaceted set of issues. We need a more integrated automation that includes economic process optimization, collaborative production management, wireless, electrical integration, integrated safety and operator environment. Once you've integrated all of this information, what do you do with it?"

CPM is the application of collaborative manufacturing principles to the management of manufacturing processes. It improves shareholder value by unifying systems.

The CPM model is based on a generic improvement methodology. "To improve, first you have to measure," explained Säynevirta. "Once you have the data, you have to analyze it. Once you know where the problem's root cause is, you can start improving it, which allows you to improve in a sustainable manner."

The approach can be applied to asset, energy and business efficiency. "We have to have a modular approach," said Säynevirta. "We need to pick up information from various sources. We need to make this information available in a consistent manner so we can measure and analyze. The picture isn't whole without the people, so we bring in the services. We are combining the technology with the services."

The result is basic monitoring, or fingerprinting, which, along with periodic service, or scan, is the basis of plant optimization. Economic optimization based on key performance indicators (KPIs) includes computations and predictions of asset condition, decision support for operation, maintenance and management personnel, financial risk/benefit analyses and models/algorithms. KPI-based therapy is designed to close the loop on different plant levels.

The key to the CPM project is being able to deploy the results in real companies, explained Dan Overly, manager, BU service, at ABB. "We want to fingerprint," he explained. "Then we need to go back and scan so we can verify. And then we can track it." And being able to collect and analyze the data remotely can be a big economic benefit, too. "If you can connect remotely, you can do things a lot faster," said Overly. "If you have the right software technology to look at data remotely, you can really unleash a lot of potential."

Fingerprint services allow on-site audit of a process or system yielding an implementation plan of needed improvements with ROI and benchmarking. This leads to implementation services to make needed improvements, explained Overly.

ScanSeries services provide advanced remote service consisting of periodic process and system scans to identify needed improvements. Advanced tools such as DriveScan, LoopScan, HoistScan, FrameScan, 800xAScan and HarmonyScan already have been developed, said Overly. TrackSeries services allow continuous monitoring of processes' or systems' KPIs in order to identify, predict and prevent upsets.

"We can use our advanced tools, such as LoopScan, to do things that would normally take a lot longer," said Säynevirta. "If we can productize these levels of services, we can franchise it across all industries. You get a fast ROI, a common delivery approach and common visualization. That's what we really get from CPM. The common collaborative architecture is the platform we use for all of our services remotely. That's the part of the architecture we get from CPM. We can expand across all industries, and we also can take it to industry-specific tracks."

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