As plants become more complex, the amount of data generated by peripheral devices means that plant personnel can potentially be exposed to ‘information overload’.
To relieve this burden, ABB has recently released an enhancement to its distributed control system (DCS) that 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 sources, it is delivered direct to the desk in a format suited to that user.
Called System 800xA (extended Automation), the automation system is part of ABB’s Industrial IT suite that was launched four years ago.
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.
In use, system 800xA gathers information from all over the plant – extracting information relating to drives, field devices (HART, Foundation Fieldbus, ProfiBus), batch management systems, motors, and low voltage control gear.
It then 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.
The Process Portal operator interface, for example, shows any upset that occurs in production through its audible and visual alarms. 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 of the 800xA system 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 easily migrate to the new automation system. Hence, the new release of 800xA is 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.