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The choice of automation architecture has clear implications for the ability of end users to evolve their systems over time and to protect their intellectual property investments. An architecture that supports freedom of choice in standard communication protocols and integration methodologies provides the clearest path to facilitating integration at all levels of plant systems—from field devices to controllers to applications to business systems—into the overall control and visualization architecture.
Further, it's important that system suppliers provide continued investment and support, as well as an active path for porting their control code and graphics directly into the latest system controllers, thus reducing costs and risk. And because effective integration infrastructure architecture abstracts process data and information itself from the underlying communications, the benefits of integration can more readily be preserved in the face of inevitable changes in technology, control strategy and business processes.
In a word, "evolution"is ABB's guiding lifecycle principle and is embedded within the company's product offerings, policies, programs and processes, according to Roy Tanner, System 800xA product manager. "Evolution allows our customers to achieve their business goals by both sustaining their automation system and extending it with new features and technology,"says Tanner. "Our customers need to better control lifecycle costs, budget for expenses, and eliminate unplanned production interruptions. ABB's Lifecycle Management policies fulfill all these needs."The central intent of ABB's lifecycle management programs is to preserve its users' engineering and technology investments while proactively managing costs and risks on the path forward. For example, with ABB's evolutionary approach to system updates/upgrades, production interruption is minimal and many times non-existent. Consoles can be upgraded with little or no effect on the running production system. Controllers can be upgraded to the latest version and the only downtime required is installation and switchover—typically done in a single shift. And, in most evolutions, live cut-over methods can eliminate loss of production entirely.
Considering the time spent designing, implementing, validating and refining them, process control applications represent an enormous investment in end users' time and intellectual property. With ABB's evolutionary approach, upgrading to the latest controller technology protects all this effort; the same logic executes seamlessly in the new controller. System-specific control libraries for the System 800xA allow users to easily transfer their control code from older controllers to the newest AC 800M.This includes control and I/O compatibility for most installed systems from ABB, Bailey Controls, Hartmann & Braun, Taylor, Fischer & Porter and Alfa Laval Automation.
Even more important are the operator knowledge and experience developed around existing consoles and graphical displays. By converting user graphics, workplace layout and navigation methods from older systems to the System 800xA platform, operators' look-and-feel can be preserved. This reduces training, startup time and improves the ability to interact with the process. If a plant upset occurs, for example, operator response is not encumbered by an unfamiliar HMI.
Upgrade projects can be long, complex, risky and expensive. But by providing incremental upgrades and investment protection, most of these risk factors, time and re-engineering expenses can be reduced or eliminated with the ABB approach. And not only are direct engineering/technician costs reduced, secondary costs are reduced as well, including project management and risk review as well as time to travel and meet with suppliers.
To facilitate this continuous evolution and to help users manage control system costs over the entire system life, ABB offers Automation Sentinel, a program designed to assist owners in actively managing their lifecycle system costs and investments. With this program, system owners can decide when to update to newer versions of system software based on their system lifecycle plan and business objectives. In addition, customers receive consistent support throughout the complete lifecycle of their system.
As one of the world's largest automation companies, ABB's capabilities include a broad portfolio of services—from spare parts management to process optimization—to ensure its users maximum return on their ABB automation equipment investment. Lifecycle services include a comprehensive selection of services to maximize productivity, minimize costs and extend the useful life of installed equipment. These services include tech support; maintenance and field services; parts, repair and refurbishment; evolution planning and implementation; training; engineering and consulting; and installation and commissioning. Help with advanced engineering methodologies such as to improve operator effectiveness or to implement asset management strategies is also available.
Ultimately, ABB's evolutionary philosophy also means support for integration needs throughout the plant's lifecycle, enabling process manufacturers to achieve business objectives today—and sustain them into the future.
A subscription to Automation Sentinel, ABB's program for system lifecycle management, includes: