Platform Approach Speeds Instrument Innovation

Users Gain a Common Interface, ABB Gains a Platform for Bringing New Measurement Solutions Quickly to Market

By Jim Montague

ABB Automation & Power World 2013

The 4,500 employees in ABB's Measurement Products division are divided into four main product groups — Field Instruments and Devices, Flow Measurement, Analytical Measurement and Force Measurement — and these are supported by a dedicated service group. Collectively, they serve customers mainly in the oil and gas, refining and chemicals, and power and water industries.

Greg Livelli, product group manager for ABB's flow measurement products, described the division's new and upcoming solutions in his presentation, "Building the Future: What's New in Instrumentation and Why it Matters," at this week's ABB Automation and Power World 2013 in Orlando, Fla. 

Livelli reported this blossoming of new measurement solutions is the result of a four-year effort to resolve and standardize many of ABB's former instrumentation and measurement products. The division developed its "platforms and base" technology, which is a common electronics, hardware and software platform for the top sections of its transmitters, flowmeters and other products, and then did the same for the bottom base sections of these devices. The division released its new pressure and temperature products last year, is launching its new flow products this year, and will introduce its complex analytical products next year.

"We have a huge breadth of measurement solutions, but a lot of people don't realize it," said Livelli. "This allows us to be very consultative when helping customers solve problems because we can draw from and apply such a wide variety of solutions. Now our common platform and base technology will make meeting these challenges even easier." The portfolio includes two-wire base, four-wire base, field-base and advanced-base products. Also referred to as the bottom works section, the base includes analytical, flow, pressure, temperature or force measurement sensors. Meanwhile, the top works area consists of human-machine interfaces (HMIs), software, electronics, mechanics, diagnostics and integration components.

"Several years ago, the average age of our products in the field was nine years, but now it's only five years old," said Livelli. "So now we also have better reliability, better digital technologies, better diagnostics and enhanced metering, as well as wireless and new energy-harvesting capabilities." 

Some of the many new solutions introduced by ABB Measurement Products include:

•    The DHH803 handheld configurator is a microprocessor-based, battery-powered handheld communicator. Its easy-to-navigate parameter scrolling capability eliminates the need to memorize menus for online device configuration.

•    CoriolisMaster has a unique tube and modular design for high-performance measurement requirements; offers unrivaled accuracy in direct mass flow measurement; and is available in 1-inch to 6-inch sizes with flexible connections to enable optimal adaptation to all processes.

•    The EMF is an electromagnetic flowmeter for oil and gas applications. It has a wide range of liners and electrodes to meet the needs of a broad variety of demanding applications. Its high-pressure design is also suitable for power generation and minerals and mining applications. This flowmeter's self-check feature allows users to check if it's still using its factory calibrations without removing it from duty. It will be released in October 2013.

•    VT5 Vortex and Swirl flowmeters provide accurate flow measurement with short upstream and downstream piping requirements; offer high performance and reliability in liquids, gases and steam flows; and use digital signal processing (DSP) and advanced filtering techniques to eliminate effects of hydraulic noise and pipeline vibration. They will be released in June 2013.

•    The Cumulus thermal mass flowmeter provides a mass flow output without pressure or temperature compensation; is suitable for industrial and test rig applications that demand quick and precise gas measurement; and has high accuracy, short response time and wide rangeability. It will be released in December 2013.