Alicia Bauer on the Matrikon/ABB partnership

Alicia Bauer is Director of Global Marketing Control Systems and Products. You'll see more of her in an upcoming interview in Control magazine. She gave a report on "the collaboration between Matrikon and ABB." First, she gave the obligatory tour of ABB. Suffice it to say that they are a gymungus big company with lots of divisions, where they work with lots of technology from power to robotics. "Traditionally, in automation what you have is a DCS system that contains a controller an HMI so forth. You also need a historian, a batch manager, and so on, to adequately run your plant," she said. "The challenge with the traditional DCS model actually provides too much information that isn't well integrated." There is too much time spent filtering out the noise in search of the correct action criteria. So what did ABB do to address the shortcomings of traditional DCS? "We created the 'xA' system. That stands for 'Extended Automation' based on the OPC architecture," she said. "The System 800xA reduces time from decision to action, optimizes plant asset availability, integrates information for improved visibility." "We've sold 2834 systems worldwide since 2004!" IndustrialIT solutions build upon the 800xA system with integrated devices and 3rd party software applications to deliver value. So we developed a certification system for products designed to "play nice" with 800xA. We went out looking for a suitable partner for alarm management, based on a business case. The IndustrialIT Technology Partnership Program is the formalization of this certification system. "We have ensured that we have partners in software applications, hardware connectivity packages, intelligent devices, and infrastructure equipment," she noted. "The value to the customer is that you have more ability to integrate the things you already have in your plant, rather then being stuck with getting another interface module from ABB just to connect something you need. Everything your operators need is available in the IndustrialIT environment," she declared. "We've also been collaborating with Matrikon on the connectivity package we offer for the Honeywell TDC3000. Third party software IIT enabled products include Intergraph SPI, Maximo, SAP/PM, IFS CMMS, Matrikon ProcessGuard and Nilhe Video. "If I look back over the past four or five years, people are looking to improve plant performance, and meet standards and regulations," she said. "So why is ABB partnering with Matrikon?" Alarm Management is a focus fo rABB, and AlarmManager fills the gap. We have a common customer base, and we have a techology cooperation on native OPC servers (TDC3000Connect). But it is more than that, she said. It is because we have a shared common vision about how to serve the customers' needs and we're heading in the same direction. Bauer gave a brief tutorial on alarm management, similar to many already given this week. Sustaining an alarm management program is the really hard part for our customers. Most people are satisfied with getting to predictive alarm management, but the system degrades over time back to reactive mode. What the ABB-Matrikon partnership does is produce a system that overcomes that degradation curve. They do this by streamlining the process. "800xA and ProcessGuard (Alarm Manager) offer a total alarm management solution, today, and integrating our products offers the sustainable solution that our customers are asking us for," she said. Here's the point: Matrikon AlarmInsight for System 800xA seamlessly integrates Matrikon Alarm Management into ABB's System 800xA, with direct, contextual access to ProcessGuard Alarm Analysis reports and direct access to Operator Assistance report, giving cause, effect, andrecommended action in the HMI environment the operator is used to working in, with single click access. Bauer said that it is easy to implement. "I can do it myself," she self-deprecated, "so you can understand how easy it is." There are desktop tools for root cause analysis that combine the 800xA tools with the Matrikon tool set. "You can use the same 800xA software on top of your legacy Bailey equipemnt like Harmony, as well. And you have immediate connectivity to the business network, built in," she noted. She described exactly how the connectivity works, and how deep it goes into the system. It is clearly not an add on, but a detailed and deeply rooted add-in to the 800xA system. She showed two case studies. The first was AMCOR (APM) Maryvale, which has Harmony and is upgrading to 800xA. The second one is a plant expanision and upgrade with multiple controller types. This unnamed customer has contracted ABB and Matrikon to do the alarm management project instead of doing themselves. Alarm management is more than a product. It is a philosophy, a way of working that we've embedded into the System 800xA. Both Matrikon and ABB sell the AlarmInsight for 800xA product.