The ABB Industrial Automation Division (IA), with around 24,500 employees worldwide, is at home in more than 15 industrial sectors. These include the oil, gas, chemical, pharmaceutical and pulp industries, as well as marine facilities. IA provides them all with systems for control technology and plant optimization as well as specific automation solutions. IA has already installed around 35,000 DCS (Distributed Control Systems) worldwide.
ABB IA has long worked with several tools to implement its engineering projects. This has meant a somewhat sequential approach. In order to meet the requirements for faster, parallel project processing, a rethink was necessary. When working in parallel with various tools, data transfer and overseeing revision levels are extremely time-consuming. So, a highly developed system was required combining hardware and software design and centrally storing all the necessary plant data.
„Defining this requirement brought Engineering Base (EB) into play,“ says Alex Nisbett, Global Project Manager Automation Engineering at ABB IA. The experienced engineer certified by TÜV Rheinland was impressed by the system, not only by the fact that it has been tried and tested for years in the ABB Mining/Minerals Division but above all by its cooperation concept. „Teams from Europe, India and Australia often work on the same project at the same time. EB‘s database always keeps all current information of each discipline consistently available for further development. Everyone sees every change immediately.“ At IA, EB is the single source of truth for process design, detail engineering and control system configuration. EB also stores all revisions, making quick comparisons and delta detection easy. „Some customers want to go back to a previous version. That‘s no problem with EB!“ says Nisbett.
He sees EB as the „best-in-class“ system for efficient automation: „The saving of engineering hours over the entire project schedule has clearly exceeded our expectations. EB‘s error and test reductions are really significant!“ This, he said, was mainly due to the automation of manual work and the standardization of recurring processes. Nisbett names the templates for hardware development and documentation as well as the automated parameterization of the software modules for the 800xA control system. The bidirectional data exchange between both systems increases the data quality enormously.
„Of course, a project planning system must have future potential,“ adds the manager. So, in the future, Division IA will also use EB‘s capabilities to cover the concept and FEED phases as well as to efficiently support the operations area. He also praises AUCOTEC‘s support for both EB and also in the face of corporate challenges. There are already further expansion proposals for the platform. Alex Nisbetts résumé: „There is a lot of synergy in EB; we want to use it to position ABB even more strongly against the competition.“