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New automation system extends the reach, functionality of traditional automation systems

ABB Limited (Group Headquarters) : 08 February, 2004  (New Product)
An enhancement to ABB's distributed control system has been launched which, for the first time, gives personnel from all areas of manufacturing or process plants access to customised information according to their job function. While this information is extracted from the same source, it is delivered direct to their desk in a format suited to that user.
Rather than make just process control improvements, the new automation system is able to tap into valuable information from a whole raft of peripheral devices and assets that may have previously been ignored.

As such, ABB has expanded the role of the traditional DCS by extracting information relating to drives, field devices (HART, Foundation Fieldbus, ProfiBus), batch management, motors, low voltage control gear through to the introduction of reporting structures that meet the requirements of the FDA (21 CFR Part II).

The result is access to all information in the right form, at the right time and to the right people which will ultimately lead to faster product turnaround, greater customisation and lower overall costs.

Called System 800xA (extended Automation), the automation system is part of ABB's Industrial IT suite that was launched four years ago, and is expected to significantly reduce decision making time, thereby improving product quality and productivity. With System 800xA, Industrial IT system software is available as a system offering, rather than a collection of products or suites. This dramatically simplifies delivery as all system software is available from one DVD set, therefore simplifying installation, on-line expansion of the system and maintenance, training and documentation.

At the heart of the System 800xA is Industrial ITs patented Aspect Object technology. Aspect Objects relate all plant data, the Aspects, to specific plant assets the Objects. This removes the headache of locating information spread between different people, locations, computers and applications.

Aspect Object navigation presents the entire production facility in a consistent, easy to view manner.

Thus, System 800xA gathers information from all over the plant and transforms it into relevant data for maintenance technicians, process engineers, production managers or plant operators. This is then accessed through an operator screen, known as the ABB Process Portal. When each user logs in, the screen will define the type and class of information required specifically for that person, thereby providing timely and informed decision making. All users can access the information relevant to them through one screen with security as appropriate. No other automation system offers such customisation.

As plants become more complex, the amount of data generated by peripheral devices means that plant personnel are exposed to information overload. In other systems, every user must evaluate and understand the same sea of data and then sift out, often manually, the relevant information before making a decision. This is time-consuming and inefficient.

With System 800xA, each user sees one set of consistent data, for single-point entry, single-point change, and re-use across the plant. It provides a single window to include smart field devices, asset optimization functions, information management, batch management, safety systems and MES (manufacturing execution systems) applications.

Electronic data is presented as information to management, operations, maintenance and engineering in a way that is most meaningful to them. This eliminates wasted time spent searching through data or views that are not relevant to the individual job function, while ensuring the information is consistent and up-to-date. System 800xA's single user interface dramatically increases individual productivity by saving time and effort for each user.

The Process Portal operator interface shows any upset that occurs in production through its audible and visual alarm. It is the only system that can group alarms to specific areas or object types. Remote personnel are notified of critical events via mobile telephones, e-mail accounts and pagers by 800xA's SMS and e-mail messaging services. Using GSM mobile phone technology, 800xA allows remote acknowledgement of notification and conformation of receipt.

Other new features include regulatory compliance support including audit trail, authentication and e-signatures. The latter feature is in response to the growing complexity of the regulatory environment which demands software designed to integrate compliance to procedures such as electronic signatures.

System 800xA is designed to ensure that ABB's existing DCS installed base can migrate trouble-free to this new automation system without sacrificing any of the performance of their existing installations. It provides the flexibility to implement the functions these customers require today and the agility to add others as needs evolve. Consistent with ABB's IndustrialIT philosophy, the new release of 800xA is fully backwards-compatible with legacy installed base systems, such as Advant, MOD 300, Master, Symphony Harmony, Melody and SATT.

The integrated suite of applications for Industrial IT extend beyond core process control functions and include production management, safety systems, smart instrumentation, smart drives and motor control, information management and plant asset optimisation and documentation.

The system includes new tools for engineering design, fieldbus management, bulk data management, audit trail, and integration with Intergraph's INtools CAD design software. Among the core functions providing these tools are:

Operations: Process Portal, the industry's most intuitive system interface, provides a consistent method for accessing enterprise-wide data and for launching multiple applications from any connected workstation in the plant or office.

Engineering: Integrated engineering environment efficiently supports the complete lifecycle of the automation project, from planning, through configuration and library management, to commissioning and operation to minimize system ownership costs. Extended automation objects created within the engineering environment provide a foundation for the efficient development, deployment, reuse, and continuous improvement of production applications, with predictability unattainable from other automation solutions, according to ABB. Engineering efficiency is increased, as solutions and applications only need to be developed once for uniform use and reuse throughout the automation environment. This makes it easy to access and reuse the best strategies to solve problems and improve the process.

Information Management: Powerful information management software collects, stores, retrieves and presents historical, process and business data to enhance the usefulness of data from all operations.

Batch Management: Production management and optimization tools provide the agility, speed, and control needed to respond to increasing production demands by modelling, executing, and tracking information associated with material and control flow across the plant. Automatic generation of electronic batch records is also provided.

Asset Optimization: Asset optimization software exploits the wealth of plant resident information to assess and report equipment conditions in real-time to reduce costly corrective and preventive maintenance and optimize maintenance and calibration work flows.

Control and I/O: Comprehensive suite of standards-based hardware and software meets the needs of total plant control. Controllers are complimented with a full line of industrial I/O interfaces to meet all plant environments.

Fieldbus (Field Device integration): System 800xA integration of all fieldbus standards lowers lifecycle costs through significant cost savings in the design, implementation, and operation of field equipment.

Unlike competitor systems, all of the above are integrated into one system, using one software platform, thereby giving a consistent look and feel.
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