ABB extends DCS

Wickliffe, OH—ABB has introduced its Industrial System 800xA Extended Automation, which encompasses functionality beyond the essential process control offered by ABB’s 800 line of control systems.


Wickliffe, OH— Better late than never. Admitting that ABB has been slow in coming to market with an automation system built on its IndustrialITsystem to rival other automation suppliers’ offerings, Dinesh Paliwal, ABB’s president, says the reason for its lateness is due to the company’s reluctance to announce a product before it was ready to deliver it with the functionality and scope intended. The product, Industrial System 800xA Extended Automation, is said to encompass functionality beyond the essential process control offered by ABB’s 800 line of control systems, reaching into production management, safety systems, smart instrumentation, smart drives and motor control, robotics, information management, asset optimization, and documentation.

The idea behind 800xA is the creation of an environment to manage one set of consistent data for single-point entry, single-point change, and reuse across the plant. The data is presented, according to ABB, in “the proper context,” so that management, operations, maintenance, and engineering personnel can access specific information and functions relevant to them and not be exposed to information overload.

As such, the company claims the 800xA database presents one source of truth for use by applications. Furthermore, the 800xA does not duplicate data accessed in other databases to avoid replication errors. As for connectivity to an array of devices and systems, 800xA supports FOUNDATION fieldbus, Profibus, and HART communications. An XML interface enables integration of 800xA to enterprise business systems, such as enterprise resources planning and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

“Customers have repeatedly told us they want productivity, performance, asset availability, visibility, reusable engineering, and faster time to decision in an integrated environment,” says Paliwal. He says ABB developed 800xA with a wide range of capabilities to address these areas, because these issues are more important to customers than “our market share, the amount of systems we sell, or awards we’ve won.” IndustrialITSystem 800xA features the following integrated core functions:

Operations: Using the OperateITProcess Portal, 800xA Operations provides a consistent method for accessing enterprise-wide data and for interacting with multiple applications from any connected workstation in the plant or office. The enabling technology behind 800xA is ABB’s Aspect Object framework (Aspect Objects relate all plant data, the Aspects, to specific plant assets, the Objects). The production facility is presented in one window environment that includes smart field devices, asset optimization functions, information management, batch management, safety systems, and MES applications. ABB claims that other systems present data out of user context, meaning that each user must understand all the same data and then root out decision criteria before taking action. Using the 800xA Process Portal, each user’s login defines the type and class of information required for informed decision-making.

Engineering: By managing one set of consistent data, 800xA allows for single-point entry, single-point change, and reuse across the plant. The Engineering function of 800xA uses ABB’s Aspect Exchange Services for INtools for creating automation system structure, functionality, and graphics, as well as operational changes, such as ranges, units, and settings. The graphical design of automation strategies facilitates easier engineering of applications. Because the design is function oriented, engineers can develop strategies without knowing controller and I/O physical allocations. Engineering change management features record and track system configuration changes to project libraries, instantiated solutions, and run-time and off-line data. Audit trail and electronic signatures are other key features.

Information Management: Historical, process, and business data are collected from disparate sources and stored securely. Operator displays provide information in the control system environment, which can present both real-time and historic trend data as well as alarms and events. Scheduling options, which provide automatic triggers for key actions, support all plant personnel with standard procedures and exception handling. Examples include root cause analysis with event triggered pre- and post-event logging. User-defined data structures and calculations provide reusable algorithms and applications that can be used to transform raw data into information, such as key performance indicators or material properties, as well as offer control support. The data structures can also be used to integrate external application data into the system. The embedded historian uses the inherent systems configuration and administration, allowing single-point change management, and eliminating the risk of inconsistencies between multiple databases and the need to duplicate engineering effort.

Batch Management: By modeling, executing, and tracking information associated with material and control flow across the plant, the Batch Management feature provides recipe management, batch and procedural control, regulatory compliance, safety and security. ABB’s standards-based production management capabilities are built to ISA 88, IEC 61512, IEC 6-1131-3, and ISA S95 standards. The tools in this feature help achieve compliance with FDA’s 21 CFR Part 11, cGMP requirements, and GAMP guidelines. Online recipe editing allows the user to modify sequence and equipment assignments, as well as recipe parameters, without stopping the batch. All changes made are automatically saved in the batch production record. Also, the ability to configure error handling logic in the recipe simplifies logic configuration for handling production-specific abnormal conditions. Flexible equipment management supports network, multi-path, and single path equipment configurations. 800xA Batch management reserves and allocates equipment and other resources at run-time based on priority of each batch.

Asset Optimization: Information from field instruments, motors, drives, process equipment, control systems, and IT assets is collected, aggregated, analyzed, and compared to historical data to provide advanced notice of degrading performance and impending failure. Corrective recommendations are also offered. Workflow processes extend from condition monitoring in the field device to enterprise asset management applications, such as computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). Context-sensitive interaction is provided through standard 800xA CMMS displays, such as active work orders, work order history, preventative maintenance schedules, and spare parts. Meriam Process Technologies’ Device Management Systems provides integrated calibration management solution for HART or conventional 4-20mA devices.

Control: A suite of standards-based control hardware and software are complemented with a line of industrial I/O interfaces suitable for all plant environments. Control and I/O compatibility is built-in for installed systems from ABB, Bailey, Hartmann & Braun, Taylor, and Alfa Laval Automation. Controllers feature an extensive software library of pre-defined and user-defined control elements for complex control strategies, including continuous, sequential, batch, and advanced control.

By offering the 800xA system with such a wide array of integrated functionality, Robert Hausler, ABB’s systems marketing VP for its IndustrialIT control and enterprise products, says the company is “stealing a page from the Microsoft handbook.” Microsoft excelled in the market against WordPerfect by offering Microsoft Word integration with Excel, Outlook, and other Office applications. Hausler says, “it’s not just the features that make the system appealing, but how the features come together.”

ABB claims more than 400 installations to date in advance of the official release (the third version of the product) on Jan. 5, 2004.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
David Greenfield, editorial director

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