Video: Making your plant performance reporting more interactive
Most James Bond movies begin with a trip to the lab where Q shows off the latest gadgets, like a car with missiles or exploding watch. Attendees at ABB Automation and Power World last week got a similar treatment as the company showed what’s cooking in the lab back in Sweden. One of the major questions that ABB has been puzzling over is how the next generation of process plant operators will respond to the typical HMI displays one finds supporting a process control system. It’s probably hard to find someone who is pursuing a college education these days that has not grown up with computers and video games. The expectation is that anyone in his or her early 20s will be pretty bored with crude line drawings or eight-bit animation. At the same time, looking at the HMIs on display, it’s clear that ABB has implemented graphics that certainly look like they have been influenced heavily by the recommendations of the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium.
ABB is exploring how you can create something that puts current graphic capabilities to work in a way that is actually useful in an industrial context. The Qs in this case are Martin Olausson and Susanne Timsjöe, who both work at ABB Labs outside of Stockholm. They were demonstrating some new platforms that interface with the 800xA system and are intended to provide useful and timely information to operators and maintenance people in a plant. I could try and describe the systems, but the attached video gives you a far better explanation. Even the video doesn’t do the systems justice because there is no way you can see how much information is there. Suffice it to say if you’re reviewing plant performance in your morning meeting, and you want to know what’s happening in some corner of the process unit, the data is there and it’s up to the minute.
These platforms are still prototypes, but as Olausson points out, the first one is working in the paper mill for which it was designed, and the operators use it every day. These systems aren’t products yet, nor is there any assurance that they ever will be in their present form. ABB is still gathering input from users, which is why they were being displayed so openly at the event. It will be interesting to see the next round of developments.
Peter Welander, firstname.lastname@example.org