In this special report, we've already examined how an integrated approach to electrical controls and process automation can substantially reduce capital and operating expenses while improving overall plant performance. First, an integrated system costs less to acquire, install, commission and maintain over time relative to two standalone systems. Second, an integrated system tears the blinders from formerly isolated decision-makers, allowing them to collaborate more closely, better understand the big picture, and act more quickly, decisively and correctly. Third, and worthy of standalone treatment in this final article, an integrated system provides a ready platform for implementing energy management strategies that advance plant performance in both economic and environmental terms.
Energy management entails the visibility and control of energy usage from the plant-wide level down to the individual load, with the primary purpose of identifying and addressing sources of inefficiency. With ABB's approach to electrical integration, real-time data from the company's entire portfolio of electrical control system components—from substation automation systems and protective relays down to energy consuming devices such as low-voltage drives and motors—is visible across the entire network.
And while the integration of ABB electrical devices into the company's System 800xA provides uniquely productive synergies—such as through pre-written libraries of asset-specific monitoring applications—electrical devices from other manufacturers that are compliant with the open standards like PROFINET, PROFIBUS and IEC 61850 can be readily integrated into a System 800xA-based energy monitoring application.
Energy management 'along for the ride'
In total, implementation of ABB's electrical integration approach means that detailed, real-time information on power consumption down to the individual load is available at the system level. Analysis down to the individual motor level allows plant personnel to pinpoint and address sources of inefficiency that aren't identifiable in area-wide consumption data. For example, if the data shows an individual motor's energy consumption trending upward, a maintenance call can be scheduled automatically.
Plant personnel can see and understand power usage in a more coordinated manner, allowing the exploration of new energy-saving opportunities and the validation and extension of existing energy-saving initiatives. Better visibility into power consumption and real-time energy usage and costs also allows for easier energy auditing and benchmarking against industry standards.
A complete picture of energy usage
In a larger context, the integration of electrical controls within the ABB System 800xA architecture can represent the final element of an integrated, holistic view of all energy flows within a plant. As a process automation system, System 800xA is well equipped to corral the necessary flow rates, temperatures and pressures needed to quantify in real time a plant's consumption of fuel and steam as well as energy-intensive plant utilities such as compressed air and process water. The real-time integration of power consumption—in aggregate and in granular detail—delivers the final brushstrokes required for a complete portrait of energy use.
The primacy of energy as a process input even has some industrial operations redefining their key performance indicators (KPIs) in terms of unit energy consumption, rather than overall production rate: in tons of product per kWhr rather than in tons of product per day or year. This KPI, in turn, sometimes has a more direct correlation with plant profitability than does overall production rate. Energy consumption visibility, enabled by an integrated approach to process automation and electrical controls, is making this approach possible.
The Boliden Minerals Aitik open pit mine in Gällivare, Sweden, is among the increasing number of energy-intensive industrial operations leveraging electrical integration to improve its energy efficiency. The mine produces copper along with silver and gold, and in the process consumes roughly 1.5% of Sweden's total power production.
Needless to say, even small increases in energy efficiency add up quickly. Boliden went with ABB to provide one integrated system for its concentrator plant process control and electrical monitoring systems. Operations and maintenance are centralized in a single control room, and the integrated system provides for them a platform to optimize energy consumption, which they view as a competitive imperative.
"It's self-evident for us to closely follow material throughout the process and optimize it," says Mikael Walther, Boliden system technology manager. "Now we do the same with power. Now we are able to study it, map it out, and analyze the connections between production and power consumption."