ABB took a significant step forward to further streamline the execution of its customers’ automation projects with the release of Select I/O at ABB Customer World this week in Houston. Select I/O is a redundant, Ethernet-based single channel input/output (I/O) system that supports ABB’s next generation project execution model. Called “Intelligent Projects,” the new methodology streamlines execution while decreasing complexity, project delays and cost overruns.
“The cornerstones of ABB’s Intelligent Projects execution model are efficient cloud engineering, digital marshalling, standardization and automated data management,” said ABB’s Dan Overly, head of product management - oil, gas and chemicals. “With the release of Select I/O, all of the data points that make up a project, whether hardwired to the control system or part of an integrated electrical substation, are now able to be digitally marshalled into the System 800xA architecture. This makes it possible to execute projects more efficiently by decoupling tasks and becoming more resilient to late changes and delivering projects faster and more cost effectively.”
Available for process automation and safety applications, this extension to the System 800xA family of Flexible I/O Solutions allows for each I/O channel to be individually characterized using a plug-in signal conditioning module (SCM). This approach streamlines project execution in a number of ways.
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First, Select I/O allows users to install standardized cabinets with the bases for field wiring early during a project, then select the type of I/O much later. Because the base hardware for every type of signal is the same, automation system designers need only know an approximate I/O count at the design-freeze milestone of an automation project. Designers can then order standard—not custom—I/O module bases and enclosures, knowing that they have full flexibility to alter the mix of I/O types at any point in the project. Further, since control system hardware components are now standard issue, the factory acceptance test (FAT) of control system hardware is a thing of the past.
Second, because each channel can take on any signal type and be digitally marshalled to any controller, the need for physical marshalling—and all those cabinets and terminations, too—disappears completely. In addition to lowering costs and speeding execution, this has the added benefit of significantly reducing overall system footprint, which can be critically important in an application such as an off-shore oil rig where floor-space and even allowable weight are at a premium. Instrument installation techs save time, too, because they can simply land their wire pairs on the most convenient pair of I/O terminations and move on to the next.
The Select I/O solution’s network is connected via an Ethernet Fieldbus Communication Interface (FCI) with embedded redundant switches. In addition to being field ready with temperature ratings of -40 to 70 degrees C, each channel is galvanically isolated, current limited and has a unique “field disconnect” mode for added protection and flexibility.
“With this extension of the ABB Ability System 800xA offering our customers get many new cost saving opportunities for their automation projects,” said Ilpo Ruohonen, managing director of ABB’s Control Technologies business unit. “The flexibility that Select I/O brings with it will certainly change the way of executing projects.”
In the end, single-channel, configurable I/O does much to sever the serial design dependencies that plague the execution of automation projects. Hardware and software aspects of automation system design can proceed in parallel, compressing schedules and reducing risk. The Select I/O offering complements a range of ABB software tools and new execution workflows to ensure that these streamlined, parallel engineering processes meet up in a fully tested, fully functional automation solution.