ABB Ability strengthens industrial solutions

By Mike Bacidore

Feb 26, 2019

We’ve all heard the term “solution” thrown around. But what does it mean? Is it a liquid? Is it the answer to a math equation? Is it the knight in shining armor that eliminates a crippling problem?

In the context of the ABB portfolio, a “solution” includes hardware, software and networking, explained Guido Jouret, chief digital officer at ABB, who gave the final summary presentation of an expansive tour of the Technology and Solution Center at this week’s ABB Customer World in Houston. The ABB Ability platform, in particular, is the unified, cross-industry digital offering that extends from devices at the edge and to the cloud, he explained. Those devices, systems, services and platforms enable ABB customers to know more and do more in a collaborative environment.

“Some of the software can run on the device. Some of the software can run on a gateway. And some of the software can run in the cloud,” Jouret explained. “We build software that takes advantage of the Microsoft Azure platform. Dassault Systemes is our partner for digital twin. And IBM is our partner for AI.”

All of this software requires secure connectivity as well. “On the factory floor, there are many good reasons to be concerned,” explained Jouret, who emphasized the way ABB has addressed cybersecurity concerns with ABB Ability, from secure cloud connectivity to devices with root trust established at the silicon level.  

“No matter where a manufacturer’s intelligence lies, it can become part of the solution,” Jouret said. Other specific examples of those products and that intelligence were evident at other booths throughout the Technology & Solutions Center.

Project engineering re-imagined

“We’ve re-imagined and redesigned projects,” said Tilak Pinnamaneni, sales director, North America, oil, gas and chemicals, at ABB. “With the advent of Select I/O, we disconnect the hardware and software engineering. You don’t need marshalling; you don’t need any planning beyond an approximate I/O count.”

System 800xA 6.1 provides innovations to the DCS architecture and introduces technologies that shorten timescales for project execution, reduce the impact of late changes and enhance the scalability of the system. This is achieved by the introduction of new Ethernet I/O solutions, additional controllers and a series of engineering tools such as an Ethernet I/O Field Kit and an Ethernet I/O Wizard for field commissioning.

The flexible I/O solutions and engineering workflow change the way projects are delivered in the future. The system can deliver cost savings on capital projects, and tasks can be done in parallel, allowing users to make late changes more easily.

Robotic, services and power offerings extended

Another recently introduced product, ABB’s OmniCore robot controller family, offers broad motion control options and tailored solutions for the connected Factory of the Future. “OmniCore controllers reduce the footprint by 40%,” said Charlie Miller, key account manager at ABB Robotics, who also pointed out the advantages of RobotStudio’s Virtual Meeting Room, in which multiple people in different countries can meet in a virtual environment.

Thomas Duffy, global data center commercial executive at ABB, shared solutions for critical power, which are for those loads that can never go without power. “We monitor, purify and communicate the status of the power,” he explained. “We use PLCs for the logic in redundancy mode. And lithium ion batteries have now made their way into our industry.”

Services also are an important part of the ABB Ability offerings. “We use digital to deliver those services,” said Jim Crowl, country service manager for the United States, ABB. “And we use robots to deliver them, too. Our submersible robot can drop into a tank and inspect it without draining it. We also can send a robot to crawl through the stators and windings of motors. We can estimate the lifecycle of the motor and prescribe maintenance. We have sensors monitoring equipment and sending real-time information up to the cloud.”

ABB Ability’s integrated services are a treasure trove of data, explained Scott McKay, vice president, business unit manager, energy, at ABB. “Our distributed control system is the same platform for electrical control,” he said. “Customers can realize 30% savings from integrated solutions.”

Finally, the ABB Ability mobile gas leak detection system has taken wing. Literally. Previously available on vehicles that could be driven around at 50 mph to detect methane leaks, the system has been condensed to fit in a box small enough to be carried through the air by a drone. It’s another example of liberating data that exists in hard-to-reach places, added Peter Bradley, measurement and analytics global marketing and sales manager at ABB. “We’re finding ways to make that data available.”

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