ABB has unveiled version 6 of its 800xA process control system, a major new release described by Mark Reid, ABB group vice president, process automation division, as "the most important migration product we’ve ever released.” It also fundamentally "reloads” ABB’s 10-year-old concept of Industrial IT, according to Tobias Becker, head of ABB’s global control products business unit. "V6 bundles everything we’ve learned in the past 10 years,” he added.
ABB is targeting the new version at non-obsolete, but unsupported automation systems both from ABB itself and from other manufacturers. Integrated tools and special services are intended to make it easier to switch over to the latest technology available on the market, and at the same time, offer numerous possibilities for continuously optimizing ongoing operations.
Notably, the system is designed to be "IT future-proof,” Becker said, with support for the latest Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 platforms.
Ease of use and migration are critical aspects of the new release, noted Reid. The retrofitting of existing systems requires extensive planning and checks. So in the development of version 6, great importance was attached to developing tools and services in order to make it as straightforward as possible to switch over from an old system.
These include the new 800xA system installation and upgrade tool for establishing node profiles, which enables an easier, centralized installation and faster restoration of the nodes while the system is being used. In addition, a "Customer Lab” is available for customers during system migration to provide an initial check in a secure, virtual environment and reduce the costs.
"Advances in technology have allowed for some amazing changes in how automation systems are deployed compared to five years ago,” said Gregor Kilian, head of sales and marketing for control technologies in Germany, ABB Process Automation.
"In addition to the virtualization of the entire 800xA system, the server performance has been increased up to the point where we are able to considerably reduce the number of devices required by our 800xA users and the users of other automation systems,” Kilian added. In some cases, this may potentially result in a reduction in the amount of space required of 50% or more, with a corresponding reduction in the capital and lifecycle costs.
Further, cybersecurity is built in, "engrained in the system’s DNA,” Becker added. Key features include white-listing and embedded cybersecurity monitoring and management services from Industrial Defender, now part of Lockheed Martin.