Despite economic uncertainties and tight travel budgets, more than 3,300 ABB representatives, partners and users met March 23-25 in Orlando, Fla., to share practices, identify trends and check out 72,000 sq. ft. of exhibits designed to help them make the most of automation and power systems.
The consensus is that the current economic climate is only a temporary impediment and distraction from pursuing the rich potentials in optimizing production, increasing reliability and improving energy efficiency that can come from integrating process and electric power monitoring and control.
Among the hundreds of presentations was “Electrical Integration: A Strategy for Achieving Unified Operations and Extended Asset Management,” by Stefan Bollmeyer, ABB fieldbus product manager for its System 800xA.
“Electrical integration is the next frontier in driving productivity, increasing safety and reducing costs,” Bollmeyer said. “For instance, a large pulp and paper mill might typically have 2,400 electrical actuators, 1,160 motor starters, 100 drives and 250 intelligent electrical devices (IEDs) for medium- and high-voltage switchgear, while its process plant might have 1,321 motor starters, 240 drives and 111 IEDs for medium-voltage switchgear,” he explained. “These are high-cost assets, so there are many good reasons to integrate them.”
Oil and gas applications need to maximize production, keep processes running, shed loads and optimize use of generating capacity. Pulp and paper, aluminum and steelmakers, and power-generation facilities must manage electricity as a raw material cost, shave peaks, reduce energy consumption and ensure reliable power. Chemical and life sciences facilities need to optimize energy consumption and ensure reliable utilities.
“Electrical integration enables users to achieve total plant visualization so they can make decisions based on dollars and cents, and not just on temperatures and voltages,” Bollmeyer said. “This also means they maximize production by reducing the impact of an unreliable power supply, as well as reduce energy costs by conducting peak shaving.
“Electrical integration also allows users to reduce operational costs by unifying their operations environment, performing condition-driven maintenance, reducing spares and training, and establishing cross-discipline cooperation. They further can reduce investment costs by minimizing cabling and engineering, by implementing an optimized network design and by establishing asset management for their electrical subsystems.”
Despite these potential gains, Bollmeyer added that several persistent barriers continue to block electrical integration. “In the past, electrical integration was hampered by a lack of communication standards and architectural design, high project execution and commissioning costs, and high life cycle costs,” he said. “Organizational barriers among departments within plants and suppliers also have hindered integration, and these mind-set-based barriers often are harder to deal with than the technical challenges to integration. Many users have their own department and kingdoms, and they want them to stay just as they are.”
To help process control and power staffs cooperate on achieving better electrical integration, ABB recommends they adopt a unified integration method based on a single system environment, use a fieldbus network to handle electrification control and management, and use the IEC 61850 standard to tie together process instrumentation, process electrification and power distribution networks.
For example, he reported that using IEC 61850 to integrate MV motor controls gives users several benefits, including fewer cables, easier installation, higher performance, alarm and events from devices, and improved diagnostics. “Especially at the lower end, electrical integration can save a lot in material and labor costs,” Bollmeyer added. “We still have separate work spaces for power people and process people, but everyone does more of their work the same way, using the same paradigm. This means more and better optimization, lower total costs and more minimization of risk.”
In his presentation on the company’s future direction, Peter Terwiesch, ABB chief technology officer, outlined how ABB will continue to help industry save energy and improve productivity. “Across all industries, 80% of energy is lost between generation and use. It’s a leaky pipe, as it were,” Terwiesch said. ABB technology can reduce losses by 20% to 30%.
“We aren’t seeing customers that are too interested in building new plants right now, so our objective must be to extend asset life,” Terwiesch said. “We must help our customers optimize energy use and help them overcome workforce shortages now and in the future. We must focus on integration, new functionality, more flexible infrastructure and open standards.”
Seamless integration reduces complexity. A common HMI increases operational excellence. A common means of recording sequences of events provides improved root-cause analysis. A single engineering environment offers more efficient engineering and better use of manpower. Common control and safety systems can reduce training requirements.
For example, Terwiesch cited Statoil Hydro Grane, which has reduced engineering labor hours by 20% to 30%. “They’ve reduced supply-chain labor hours by 50%. Change orders have been reduced by 90% to 95%, with capital expenditure savings of greater than 20%, and operations expenditure savings of approximately 20% as well,” Terwiesch added. “We expect to see the same savings as a result of our new five-year agreement with Petrobras.”
Terwiesch described how ABB remote access can help customers by providing 24/7 access to subject matter experts who might no longer be available at the plant level because of workforce reductions and retirements. “This remote access and connectivity can lead to integrated operations between production, operations and maintenance and can save customers substantially,” he said.
Terwiesch pointed out that ABB’s WirelessHART adaptor, due out later this year, is a loop-powered device without batteries. “Most of the applications we see,” he said, “and the legacy wired HART applications already have power. We see no reason to burden our customers’ maintenance departments with unnecessary batteries to change.” Later, ABB will likely offer a battery-powered unit for applications where power isn’t available.
To help usher in this new era, Jim Kline, global business and product manager for ABB’s Collaborative Production Management division, presented “The Next Generation of Managing Information.” Kline summarized many trends besetting information management and showed how ABB’s collaborative production management Plus (cpmPlus) software can help users handle data moving between the production and business levels. He defined CPM as “a method to unify disparate systems to achieve operational excellence.”
“It still all comes down to money, but today it’s no longer enough simply to execute a production plan,” Kline said. “Economics and energy are now even more key factors across every enterprise, and so they must be constantly monitored, even in the control room. This means everyone is involved, and so they need the right data, all the time and in every location. This level of collaboration and cross-functional capabilities is vital to success, but they also mean users need their data in minutes instead of hours.”