ABB Ability gives users tools to write digital future

Expertise, digitally deployed, will unlock efficiency and productivity in each user's applications and facilities

By Jim Montague

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What's better than vast, deep and longtime experience? Almost nothing—except if that experience is organized, digitalized and contextualized, so users can make better, faster decisions that improve performance, optimize applications, reduce downtime and increase profits.

This is the reasoning behind ABB's launch this week of its ABB Ability platform, solutions, products and services. In short, ABB Ability encompasses the secure, digital deployment of the company’s decades of proven know-how in automation, electrification and many other technical disciplines to unlock efficiency and productivity in each user's applications and facilities, according to Guido Jouret, chief digital officer (CDO) at ABB.

ABB Ability was developed in conjunction with Microsoft, which provides common technologies for enabling device, edge and cloud application delivery. The platform provides solutions in ABB's three primary application areas: utilities, industry, transportation and infrastructure. It also delivers secure, digital solutions on premises with fog computing from devices to the edge, in the cloud that goes up from the edge, and now in a projected "intercloud" strategy. Indeed, it’s among various cloud platforms where meaningful integration can be performed most easily, Jouret said.

"We're at the beginning of a new age,” Jouret continued. “There's risk, of course, but there's also great opportunity for capturing performance and value. ABB has delivered that value by connecting sensors to devices, and creating insight with analysis and assessment. These assessments are increasing, but this is where our competitors stop. ABB, however, makes the extra effort to harvest data, take control, and enable users to do more."

For example, ABB's System 800xA distributed control system has long been able to sense, analyze and allow users to take actions to drive efficiency. But Jouret reported that ABB Ability System 800xA and its new Select I/O programmable input/output solutions will enable users to do even more.

"ABB Ability 800xA will do everything it already does, but now we're adding self-learning so it can perform even better," added Jouret. "We're looking at integrating supply chains, and integrating with upstream and downstream users.”

Know-how fuels digital in industry

What qualifies ABB to play and lead in the emerging digital revolution? Jouret answered his own question by reporting that, "ABB has a $400-billion installed base and 150 years of domain expertise, so we have the context to know, for example, Tuesday is the day when a particular operator shuts down motors for maintenance," explained Jouret.

"This is why the IT side typically struggles in industry because they don't have this kind of experience. We have this expertise in mechanical and other systems because we've been in these industries for decades, and have institutional knowledge from our users, and that knowledge is increasingly codified."

Jouret report that ABB Ability is presently deployed in more than 180 applications, either existing ones that have been extended or new ones that are being built. Some of these applications and the results they are delivering:

  • Utilities have reduced installations times by 40%, maintenance costs by 50% and outage times by 50%. These applications include asset performance management, distributed energy resource management, maintenance workflow management, energy market trading systems, automated digital substations, standard IP communications and microgrids.
  • Industry has improved productivity by 200%, reduced energy by 30% and increased product life by 30%. These applications include connected robots, manufacturing executions systems, energy assessments, cybersecurity assessments, digital simulation for robot deployment, power quality monitoring and demand-response, distributed control systems, remote monitoring and optimization.
  • The transportation and infrastructure sector improved proactive detection of faults by 90%, reduced maintenance costs by 20% and reduced energy cost by 5%. These applications include remote monitoring for ship electrical systems, building automation, vehicle-to-grid demand/supply coordination, navigation optimization for fleets, EV charging with cloud management, flash-charging for electric buses, and energy management for mega-datacenters.

"We're coordinating demand and supply of power, such as saving ship fuel by 5% by analyzing local weather," added Jouret. "The cloud can also help manage power for datacenters, which can use up to 1 gigawatt of power. All together, ABB Ability has thousands of customers, such as PG&E, Dong Energy, American Electric Power, Shell, BMW, Cargill, BASF, Vale, Tata Steel, Microsoft, Royal Caribbean, Volvo and others.

"This is because ABB enables their uptime, speed, yield, reliability and safety. And it's also why we're excited to help them use ABB Ability to write and create new futures."

Download the full report from ABB Customer World 2017

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