Roundabout 6350074ae8d74

Where will your DCS take you?

Nov. 14, 2022
ABB has a vision, and it will make a world of difference in how you and your processes perform.

Fasten your seatbelts. We’re about to quantum leap 10 years into the future of process automation. By the year 2032, we’ll have entered a new era of the distributed control system (DCS), that workhorse of process automation that is at the heart of all the most critical processes on the planet—those that provide the basic building blocks of our everyday lives, including energy, power, water, metals, minerals, chemicals and more.

ABB, the acknowledged global leader in DCS, envisions that process automation systems of the future will empower industries to better compete in a fast-changing world. Systems will be modular and adaptable yet reliable, integrated and secure, allowing simpler and faster project engineering, deployment and commissioning. Further, they will facilitate sustainable performance and increasingly autonomous operations through the digital transformation of operations and robust collaboration among people and equipment as well as information and operational technology (IT/OT) systems.

“Perhaps most importantly,” adds Joachim Braun, Division President Process Industries at ABB Group, “as we introduce new technology into our systems, we’ll continue to do it in such a way that our installed base of customers can make use of it, add it in a stepwise fashion according to their needs, while retaining the intellectual property investments they’ve made over the years.”

A global tour, 10 years in the future

While this is a story of technological innovation, it’s also a tale of transformation for the people who engineer, build and operate these processes. “The next generation will not settle for how things are being done today,” notes Brandon Spencer, Division President Energy Industries at ABB Group.

To help bring the ABB vision to life, in this series of articles you’ll be introduced to five individuals whose working lives are quite different from mine and yours today. In Chile, we’ll meet a digital native process operator who uses the latest tools and technologies to both understand the complexities of the copper mine at which he works and to make optimal interventions when needed.

In the southeastern U.S., we’ll visit with a power plant project engineer who no longer spends his time counting inputs and outputs or programming in ladder logic. Rather, he’s configuring modular, higher-level container-based systems to meet process-specific application requirements—including the plant’s new carbon-capture systems.

On the other side of the planet, we’ll stop in on an Indian oil refinery manager who no longer frets about his control systems contributing to unplanned outages. Instead, because of process automation systems that are no longer hamstrung by hardware and software dependencies, he can focus on optimizing operations knowing core control system functionality is protected by virtually unlimited fault-tolerance schemes.

Next, we visit a systems engineer at a specialty chemicals maker in Spain. We’ll learn how she successfully keeps the plant’s process automation and associated systems in optimal, up-to-date working order, even as the company continues to tweak its processes and product line in response to changing market demands. Maximizing innovation while preserving continuity are her twin priorities.

Our final stop is at a South African aluminum manufacturer, where a sustainability project engineer has worked for more than a decade to coordinate the implementation of systems to better measure carbon emissions and other sustainability impacts in real time, as well as to minimize the environmental impact of production operations. He’s relying on ABB expertise in process automation systems as well as their expertise in the integrated control of increasingly electrified operations powered by renewable resources.

Each of these five portraits is intended to provide a different perspective on how ABB intends to transform the automation of industrial processes, as well as the lives of those individuals responsible for their design, commissioning, operations and maintenance. For greater detail into the trends driving ABB’s Process Automation Systems Vision, as well as the architecture they’re creating to make this vision a reality, download the whitepaper, and we hope you enjoy your tour of the not-so-distant future.  

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