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Common Platform Facilitates Instrumentation Innovation

April 30, 2008
ABB’s Instrumentation Platform Is Easier for End-Users and Streamlines Development of New Measurement Devices

“If you can use a cell phone, you can configure our transmitters,” said Sean Keeping, ABB vice president of technology for instrumentation, in reviewing the company’s roadmap for instrumentation development for the coming year and into the future.  Ease of use is key for end users, Keeping said, and standardization on a single, scaleable platform is central to streamlining the company’s development efforts. “We now have a common technology platform—it’s not cosmetic, but a fundamental commonality,” Keeping said.

In fact, the electronics platform consists of four different form factors, depending on the complexity and functionality required: a two-wire transmitter platform for relatively simple measurement devices; a two-wire “plus” platform for more complex loop-powered devices; a four-wire platform (for magmeters or Coriolis flowmeters, for example); and an advanced platform with a more full-featured HMI. Each platform has common navigation and a common look and feel, added Pat Cashwell, ABB vice president of field instrumentation. “The key point is to make it easy. We don’t have those super-techs anymore,” he said.

“We now have a family of interfaces, all with the same flavor.” ABB’s Pat Cashwell discussed how the company’s scaleable instrumentation platform is both easier for end users and streamlines development of new measurement devices.

“We now have a family of interfaces, all with the same flavor—from four buttons on a transmitter to a hand-held communicator to AssetMaster on a PC to 800xA Asset Optimization,” Cashwell continued. “It’s all about the right data, easily accessible.”

In addition to unifying its own instrumentation platforms, ABB also is “driving hard to harmonize wireless standards to the benefit of our customers,” Cashwell added. The company is fully behind WirelessHART and plans to release its first pressure and temperature transmitters using the protocol by early 2009.

Also on the docket for release in the coming year are two new magmeters, called the ProcessMaster and WaterMaster, targeted at process and water/wastewater applications, respectively, according to Keeping. The process version will be explosion-proof, and both will feature newly extended self-diagnostics and filtering, as well as SensorMemory, a unique feature designed to simplify installation and maintenance. Also planned for release by the time ABB Automation World rolls around next year are new pressure, temperature, pH and conductivity transmitters—all leveraging the common electronics platform, Keeping said. On the analytical front, new flue gas oxygen and colorimetric instruments are in the works, as is a new ControlMaster series of panel-mount controllers.

This is only a sample of what’s yet to come, Keeping hinted. “ABB is investing heavily to develop an entirely new generation of instrumentation.”

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