By Gregory Hale
It is hard to go a single day in the manufacturing automation sector without hearing about some new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) product, device, solution or program that will revolutionize how the industry thinks and does business.
While IIoT adoption is still quite a ways off, companies are moving now to get organized and able to jump at opportunities even before full implementation. It only makes sense.
That could be one reason why ABB launched ABB Ability last week at its ABB Customer World 2017 in Houston, TX. The new platform will offer more than 180 solutions and services to various sectors. It can will deliver insights and optimize planning and controls for real-time operations. Data can feed into control systems to improve metrics such as system uptime, speed and performance.
“With ABB Ability, we are combining our entire portfolio of digital solutions and services,” said ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer.
“Putting everything together is ABB Ability, everything in a common platform,” said Guido Jouret, chief digital officer at ABB during a keynote presentation last week at the ABB conference. “We want to be creating assessments through things like cybersecurity. We want to do much more. The technologies can sense, they analyze and then take action. Then you go back again and it can become a self-learning environment.”
Jouret talked about how the industry is increasing its usage of the cloud and how companies, if they are not already doing this, will be making connections from cloud to cloud. That is where the future is, he said, with cloud to cloud, more companies will be working together.
Along those lines, ABB Ability’s next-generation digital solutions and services ended up developed and built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
ABB Ability helps customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure develop new processes and advance existing ones by providing insights and optimizing planning and controls for real-time operations. The results can then feed into control systems to improve key metrics such as factory uptime, speed and yield.
In today’s manufacturing automation sector, jobs, roles, technology and cultures are changing and ABB is jumping on board and looking to the future.
Spiesshofer said there are significant digital opportunities ahead where there could be $1 trillion cost advantage for ABB’s users.
That is where he said ABB Ability comes into play with its:
• Open access, intelligent cloud
• New end-to-end digital solutions
• Systems to monitor process control
• Closing the loop with connected devices
“ABB Ability helps us to assess, to know more to know about what the situation is,” Spiesshofer said. “If you have a motor, you will know the likelihood of a chance for an incident. This can eliminate downtime, but also understand what is going on. Things work more in a collaborative way.”
Digital offerings provided by ABB Ability include performance management solutions for asset-intensive industries; control systems for process industries; remote monitoring services for robots, motors and machinery; and control solutions for buildings, electric-vehicle charging networks and offshore platforms. Some of the more specialized offerings address energy management for data centers and navigation optimization for maritime shipping fleets, among many others.
The future of manufacturing looks very promising and positive with the heightened boost of technology. So, gone are the days of hearing you can’t do this or you can’t do that because that is not the way we do things.
Following that line of thought, Spiesshofer said in the past “people would say it’s impossible to have 25 billion connected devices by 2020. But we will. It would be impossible there would be sensors put on electric motors that allow for greater uptime and downtime can end up decreased by 70 percent. It’s impossible when somebody would say a computer can beat a human champion in chess, but it happened.”
Tried and true technology and solutions, while gray around the edges, have their place. Once an afterthought, new technologies and new ways of thinking are also getting their day in the sun.