Usability, Technical Innovation Drive ABB's Instrumentation Offering

May 19, 2010
ABB Shows at Automation and Power World 2010 the New and the Forthcoming Instrumentation Line-Up

"The reorganization that put ABB's instrumentation and analytical products back under the process automation business unit has given us an unrivaled product range," said Greg Livelli, vice president of marketing for the instrumentation business unit of ABB, as he started his tour of the new and the forthcoming in the company's instrumentation line-up.

"The consolidated business unit gave us common technology platforms, the ability to achieve economies of scale, wider access to a single common channel and a complete portfolio of liquid analyzers, flow measurement and other field instruments and devices," he said.

"If we can measure the growth of greenhouse gases from a space satellite, or flow, pressure and temperature on the ocean floor, or reduce water leakage in the Riyadh water distribution system by 40%," he went on, "what do you think we can do for the more common applications like the ones in your plant?"

"We spent $50 million on research and development in 2009 and employ 340 researchers worldwide." ABB's Greg Livelli is bullish on the organization's ability to set a new standard in process instrumentation."We spent $50 million on research and development in 2009 and employ 340 researchers worldwide," Livelli said. "We have a goal of achieving a common platform for all devices, with a common look and feel, and we'll improve quality by doing that. We also have a goal of reducing the average product age to five years or under by 2011, and we think we'll achieve about 95% of our goal."

"This isn't just cosmetics," Livelli declared. "These are the building blocks for all ABB instruments."

He showed the five basic transmitter variants, in either 2-wire or 4-wire format: 60-mm monochrome, 90-mm monochrome, 120-mm monochrome, basic color display, and advanced color display. Each of these transmitters uses exactly the same menu structure and programming interface.

"Does this interface look familiar?" Livelli asked. "It should. It is based on the standard cell phone. If you can operate a cell phone, you can program these devices. I love it when customers tell us they don't need the manual to learn how to program our transmitters any more."

He added, "We've also harmonized our diagnostic capabilities. The transmitter doesn't just display error code or error code and a cryptic description of the problem. Each transmitter displays the error code, a diagnostic explanation and the remediation text that you would find if you went and dug out the manual. Our diagnostic system conforms to the NAMUR NE107 diagnostics standard. And in order to facilitate communication with the System 800xA or other control systems, ABB fully supports FDT, EDD and the new FDI initiative that seeks to combine and refine FDT/DTM and EDDL into a single common communication interface," he said.

He went over the products ABB introduced in 2009, including the ProcessMaster magnetic flow meter, which is designed to be an industrial grade magmeter, and also conforms to NAMUR NE107 diagnostics, and the WaterMaster magmeter for the water and wastewater industries, which is not only NIST-traceable, but is calibrated according to the OIML R49 Type P standard, which requires continuous self-calibration. Then there was the TorBar averaging pitot tube flow meter with unique plugged impulse line sensing, and the OriMaster, an integral orifice plate and transmitter that slips between two standard companion flanges. Finally, there were the 266 pressure transmitter and the Aztec 600 iron, manganese and aluminum analyzer, the Edura oxygen flue gas analyzer and most recently the new ControlMaster line of single loop controllers.

"And now for the new stuff," Livelli said, rubbing his hands together. "We think you'll really like this."

The lead-off new product is the company's "Fieldkey" WirelessHART adapter.This is a loop-powered adapter with a very small form factor that connects to any WirelessHART gateway and allows users to get at the stranded diagnostic information in their existing transmitters.

In the analysis section, there will be a new Endura TB82 2-wire pH and conductivity meter and a new turbidity analyzer.

There will be a new smart positioner enabled with WirelessHART, and last but not least, there are battery-powered WirelessHART instruments in development. Livelli showed a standard pressure transmitter that was battery-operated and WirelessHART-enabled, but said that although it is on the exhibit floor, it wasn't yet released. He also showed a self-contained temperature transmitter that uses the thermal gradient between the process and ambient temperature to generate thermoelectric power—enough power to run a WirelessHART transmitter. Livelli said his division was working on a variety of power harvesting technologies.

He closed by detailing the new Asset Vision asset management software suite that comes in Basic (free download on the Internet) and Professional versions.

"The point of all this," Livelli said, "is to produce the most customer-oriented products in the world."