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ABB Automation World Report

by Bill Lydon
Contributing Editor

The products and services shown at ABB Automation World in Houston, Texas, along with the enthusiasm of the ABB employees and users would seem to explain why the company’s 1st quarter 2008 earnings beat investment analysts’ consensus by over 40%. The three-day trade show and conference ran from April 29 through May 1 in Houston, Texas. There was a great deal of energy and enthusiasm at the event which showcased ABB products, ABB services, partner products, and over 300 workshops/training sessions. Over 3,500 people attended the event from throughout North America including customers, distributors, channel partners, original equipment manufacturers and ABB employees.

Enrique Santacana is President and Chief Executive Officer of ABB Inc., Region Manager of ABB North America noted that ABB products and services make important contributions in three major areas:

  • Reliable Power
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Industrial Productivity

Workshops and Technical Training Tracks Attendees choose from over 300 workshops. Topics ranged from industry issues, to free technical training, to customer case studies. The presentations were made by ABB professionals as well as customers.

Trade Show
ABB products and services along with partner products were showcased in a 40,000 sq. ft. exhibition hall. The displays include industry-specific solutions for chemicals, life sciences, marine, metals and mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper, utilities and power generation, water and wastewater.

Keynote Speakers

Mark Taft, Group Vice President, Process Automation, Global control System Business was master of ceremonies. He started the conference by making the point that, “automation is a combination of relationships and technology”. Users will have automation products installed for ten years or more so the collaboration of the user and supplier is key to getting the most from automation investments.

Michel Demar’e, ABB, CEO & CFO - Committed to Collaboration 

Michel Demar’e, ABB, CEO & CFO “successful collaboration drives prosperity”

“Most real innovations are not the product of a few geniuses¯they spring from the interaction of human networks and the exploration of ideas freely expressed in an atmosphere of openness and trust.”

ABB Raises Money for Make-a-Wish Foundation®
The event raised nearly $80,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation®. On Sunday, ABB hosted a walk/run fundraiser and during the conference attendees made donations at a golf simulator for a chance to win a custom motorcycle from Orange County Choppers. All employee donations were matched by the ABB Foundation, the company's U.S. philanthropic arm.

Michel reported on the strength of ABB as a company that their commitment to listen to customers.

  • 30%+ increase in first quarter U.S. sales.
  • ABB is committed to R&D with $1.2 Billion of investment.
  • ABB participates in customer needs to improve energy efficiency.
  • 20% of employees are focused on optimization through outsourced services for customers.

Michel suggested that, “successful collaboration drives prosperity”. This is the way to improve productivity and to efficiently execute automation plans. He cited a study conducted by Frost & Sullivan and sponsored by Verizon Business and Microsoft Corp. that indicated collaboration is a key driver of overall performance of companies around the world. Its impact is twice as significant as a company’s aggressiveness in pursuing new market opportunities and five times as significant as the external market environment. The study is titled, “Meetings Around the World: The Impact of Collaboration on Business Performance”.

Michel stated that ABB intends to make targeted acquisitions to add certain technologies, close geographic gaps, and strengthen the company’s service capabilities. He made a point of reassuring the audience that,” at ABB, there will certainly be no wholesale changes.”

John Brantley, IBM, General Manager Global Chemical and Petrochemical/Industrial Products Industries – The Power of Collaboration in Action
“open up their apertures to view new ideas”

John discussed the value of collaborative innovation and the role technology suppliers should play in helping customers, “open up their apertures to view new ideas”. In addition he discussed the importance of going green.

“We’re taking and using customers’ deep insight into their businesses because innovation is at the intersection of insight and invention …” “However, many companies still find it difficult to collaborate,” said Brantley. “I’ve seen failures where the top of the business wasn’t committed to the interaction required for cooperation. You need strong leadership for collaboration.”

Neil W. Duffin, President, ExxonMobil Development Company, Growing Competitive Advantage by Working Together
Neil addressed some very real user issues:

  • Project costs are continually increasing. Satisfying increasing energy demands will require new oil and gas production in deep-water locations, where costs are escalating rapidly. 
  • Keys to execution excellence are defining the right strategy, up-front planning, and teamwork.
  • Engineers “love to tinker to continually optimize” so the discipline to plan and design up front are important.

ExxonMobil finds that up-front planning is the key to project success. This planning helps to fix the budget and the schedule by freezing the design before project execution. “Keys to execution excellence are defining the right strategy, up-front planning, teamwork and the discipline to adhere to initial design,” explained Duffin. ExxonMobil intends to lower new capital projects cost through collaborative efforts with its employees and suppliers.

Neil also cited some interesting analysis from, The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University. You can learn more at: You can also download their "Exergy Resources Poster" that depicts exergy flux, reservoirs, and destruction. The poster depicts the exergy resources in our environment. Quantities represent GCEP's best estimate of the total resource regardless of the feasibility of recovery. These numbers are occasionally updated as the estimates and assumptions change.

Exergy Defined: Exergy is the useful portion of energy that allows us to do work and perform energy services.

Bill’s major takeaway from the keynotes…
Collaboration if done in the right spirit is leveraged investment. Leveraging the monetary and human capital of your partners to improve your business in ways not possible independently.

IBM Relationship

ABB and IBM have developed a strong relationship with IBM being the overall event sponsor. The integration of automation and business information is becoming increasingly important to improve productivity.

ABB and IBM have a meaningful relationship starting in 2003 with ABB outsourced information systems to IBM. The ten-year agreement outsourced approximately 90 percent of ABB's information systems infrastructure operations - including the transfer to IBM of more than 1,200 employees. In 2005 ABB improved shop-floor-to-top-floor information connectivity by deploying IBM's Enterprise Service Bus using WebSphere Business Integrator, paired with 800xA's Enterprise Connectivity Solution (ECS) platform.

The StatoilHydro TAIL IO (Integrated Operations) R&D partnership project is an example of a high level collaboration to create a superior systems solution to production. IBM is part of the ABB-led consortium that is helping StatoilHydro develop these technologies and work processes; the R&D consortium also includes SKF and Aker Kvaerner. Started in 2006, the goal of the StatoilHydro TAIL IO (Integrated Operations) R&D partnership project is to develop technology, processes and knowledge to integrate its operations and increase production, cut operating and maintenance costs, reduce health, safety and environmental incidents, and prolong the life of its oil and gas fields in the North Sea. The benefits include 5 percent annual increase in oil and gas production through reductions in unplanned equipment downtime and 30 percent reduction in costs through the use of predictive maintenance practices.

TAIL IO (Integrated Operations) Newsletter:

Further information on this project from ABB:

A video describing this project can be viewed at:

Energy Efficiency…Does ABB practice what they preach?

ABB has an ongoing global sustainability initiative, individual ABB businesses have been challenged to reduce energy use by 5% by the end of 2008. These are some interim results published by ABB:

  • ABB Wichita Falls, TX has reduced energy consumption by 10%
  • ABB Alamo, TX has reduced energy consumption by 5%
  • ABB Bland, VA has reduced energy consumption by 3% toward the 5% goal
  • ABB Lake Mary, FL has reduced energy consumption by 3% toward the 5% goal
  • ABB Allentown, PA is installing solar window shades, installing high efficiency lighting and other measures to meet the goal.
  • ABB Coral Springs, FL has cut energy consumption by 13%.

Industrial Energy Conservation

ABB’s Jim McCabe, Sector Manager from the United Kingdom gave a session on achieving energy savings in industrial operations. For many organizations energy is one of the top three production costs but in most companies energy conservation is not being pursued.

Energy audits gathering dust

The most troubling fact is that many of the recommendations made in energy audits are never carried out. Of the 844 variable speed drive energy saving assessments undertaken by ABB in the United Kingdom from June 2004 to October 2007, only about 20 percent of the improvements identified were implemented. These missed opportunities represent a potential annual energy saving of 350,000 megawatt-hours and an emissions reduction equivalent of 154,000 metric tons of CO2. What is more, the average payback period for these investments was just over 12 months.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency estimated that the opportunity for energy efficiency in the global manufacturing industry alone is equivalent to 600 to 900 million tons of oil. The corresponding emissions reduction potential is 1.9 to 3.2 metric gigatons of CO2 a year, about 7 to 12 percent of today’s global emissions of the gas.

ABB Energy Conservation Approach

Jim outlined ABB approach with clients that starts with a structured process to identify savings, ABB develops an Energy Management Master Plan which details all that is needed for the successful delivery of improvement projects. This plan is then carried through as part of an energy performance contract, with savings shared between the customer and ABB over the life of the contract.

ABB assessments regularly identify savings opportunities of 5 to 20 percent of a site’s utility consumption. These savings, if implemented, will contribute to future revenues by enhancing a company’s environmental brand, improving profitability and reducing its vulnerability to future energy shortages or price increases.

Energy Monitoring

Monitoring energy performance is important to understand where energy can be saved and optimized. In addition it is important to verify savings from changes made and provide real-time performance information that allows operators to respond quickly to changes in conditions. Many energy management systems report monthly, perhaps based on billing data. However, this is too infrequent to be useful as it is difficult to connect perceived anomalies with actual plant conditions when looking back over three to four weeks. Any system used should be flexible enough to allow analysis based on product grade, batch, shift or specific time period.


It is highly important that successes are visible and communicated widely throughout the organization. Energy efficiency improvements are a valuable tool for engaging a wide community of stakeholders, including employees and customers. It may be necessary to install meters to measure improvements – these should be specified as part of the implementation plan.

Initial Steps

Jim outlined a basic approach of screening to find energy savings opportunities then developing a master plan that includes implementation plans.

ABB Footprint

Dealing with one of the ABB product groups it is easy to forget how big this electrical technology company is worldwide. ABB provides solutions in a wide range of electrical categories with sales of over $30 billion dollars and an R&D budget over $1 billion dollars.

  Power Products
Power Products are the key components to transmit and distribute electricity. The division incorporates ABB's manufacturing network for transformers, switchgear, circuit breakers, and cables and associated equipment. It also offers all the services needed to ensure products' performance and extend their lifespan. The division is subdivided into three business units.
  Power Systems
Power Systems offers turnkey systems and services for power transmission and distribution grids, and for power plants. Substations and substation automation systems are key areas. Additional highlights include flexible alternating current transmission systems (FACTS), high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems and network management systems. In power generation, Power Systems offers the instrumentation, control and electrification of power plants.
  Automation Products
This ABB business serves customers with energy efficient and reliable products to improve customers' productivity, including drives, motors and generators, low voltage products, instrumentation and analytical, and power electronics. More than one million products are shipped daily to end customers and channel partners, spanning a wide range of industry and utility operations, plus commercial and residential buildings.
  Process Automation
The main focus of this ABB business is to provide customers with integrated solutions for control, plant optimization, and industry-specific application knowledge. The industries served include oil and gas, power, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, metals and minerals, marine and turbo charging. Key customer benefits include improved asset productivity and energy savings.
ABB is a leading supplier of industrial robots - also providing robot software, peripheral equipment, modular manufacturing cells and service for tasks such as welding, handling, assembly, painting and finishing, picking, packing, palletizing and machine tending. Key markets include automotive, plastics, metal fabrication, foundry, electronics, machine tools, pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries. A strong solutions focus helps manufacturers improve productivity, product quality and worker safety. ABB has installed more than 160,000 robots worldwide.

Notable Products for Control & Automation Engineers

Wireless Sensors - Powered through the Air! No batteries!
WISA (Wireless Interface for Sensors and Actuators)

ABB has a clever wireless product line powered through the air using ABB’s WISA protocol. WISA co-COM is based on IEEE 802.15.1 (physical layer) and WISA-POWER, the unique wireless power supply solution. The system uses an electromagnetic field created from an alternating current running through primary power loops. The wireless switch is equipped with small secondary coils that pick up energy from the magnetic field and transform it to electric power. This provides the wireless switch with a constant, uninterrupted supply of power. The power is transmitted through the air by cables that need to be installed within range of the sensors. This product is an alternative to applications requiring slip-rings and cable chains. The Wireless Power Supply, WISA-POWER, is described as a “very weak” electromagnetic field. ABB literature notes that the same frequencies and principle is used in many anti-theft or RFID systems e.g. in shopping areas.

The WDIO100 input/output module is the receiver for the signals and can be connected to field buses using the ABB FieldBus Plug (FBP) that supports various field bus systems including PROFIBUS DP, AS-I, DeviceNet, Modbus, and others. The module is capable of receiving signals from up to 120 switches at a time. Radio signals can be simultaneously transmitted and received, ensuring rapid flow of data both to and from the switches. To protect against loss of signal, it can also simultaneously receive both strong and weak signals, even where a large interfering signal may exist at an adjacent frequency. Added protection against signal deterioration is also afforded by the swapping of the transmission and reception antennas at the input module; this ensures that there is always a path for the signal. For system diagnostic purposes, the switches also transmit an I’m alive message twice per second.

The system communication is license free 2.4GHz ISM band. The communication protocol provides sensors with collision-free air access by allocating each sensor a specific time slot and frequency for its transmission. The content of the WISA protocol is chosen to meet the requirements of large numbers of sensors; it ensures a short response time and makes full use of the available radio bandwidth. A frequency hopping scheme, combined with error detection and automatic message retransmission in case of transmission errors, ensures that the messages from the sensors are reliably delivered, even in the presence of other wireless devices such as Bluetooth, WLANs, microwave ovens and electronic tagging systems.


ABB Products for Electrical, Process Control, and …Discrete PLCs?


ABB AC500 programmable controller it is a powerful PLC. ABB claims, “The AC500 completely redefines the term flexibility.” After looking at the AC500 and learning from AC500 product specialists it is flexible in some interested and useful areas.

Lean I/O Concept

The AC500 I/O is designed to lower the number of types of I/O modules in the system to simplify engineering, maintenance, and spare parts inventory. Input/output modules have programmable field I/O functions. For example the DC523 module has 24 universal digital points that can be individually configured as digital inputs and outputs as required.

Supports Multiple Network Connections

AC500 PLCs can have up to four communications modules connected to them to provide flexibility and the controller can also be a gateway between networks as well as a controller. Networks supported are PROFIBUS-DP, DeviceNet, CANopen, Modbus, Modbus TCP, TCP/IP, and UDP/IP.

PLC Processors

The AC500 provides a number of CPU options to meet a wide range of applications.

  • Cycle Time in Milliseconds per 1,000 instructions: binary 0.02, word 0.01, floating-point 0.02
  • Program Memory up to 4 Megabyte
  • Real-time Clock (Battery Backed)
  • Plug-in SD Memory Card
  • Cyclical, Timer-Controller, and Multi-Tasking Program Execution
  • 2 Serial Interfaces, RS232/RS485 Configurable
  • IEC 61131-3, All 5 Languages
  • Built-in WEB Server

IEC 61131-3 Software Suite with Integrated HMI

The Control Builder AC500 is the engineering tool for the AC500 family of controllers and conforms to the IEC 61131-3 standards. Configuration of the overall system is performed with this software including field buses and interfaces, extensive diagnostic functions, alarm handling, integrated visualization (HMI) and open software interfaces.

The software is a user-friendly engineering tool planning, programming, testing and commissioning of an automation application. AC500 Control Builder supports the IEC 61131-3 programming languages: Function Block Diagram (FBD), Instruction List (IL), Ladder Diagram (LD), Structured Text (ST), Sequential Function Chart (SFC) plus Free graphical function chart (CFC).

Offline simulation
IEC 61131-3 commands can be simulated without a PLC being connected, including the relevant malfunctions. After the program test, the application can be downloaded to the control system.

  • Sampling trace
    Timing diagrams for process variables and storage of data in a ring buffer with event trigger.
  • Recipe management and watch lists
    Values of selected variables are displayed. Pre-defined values can be assigned to variables which can then be downloaded to the control system all at once (“Write recipe”). Ongoing values from the control system can also be pre-assigned for reading into the Watch and Recipe Manager, and stored in memory there (“Read recipe). These functions are also helpful, for example, for setting and entering control parameters.
  • Visualization
    Includes color change, moving elements, bitmaps, text display, allows input of setpoint values and display of process variables read from the PLC, dynamic bar diagrams, alarm and event management, function keys and ActiveX elements.
  • Configuration of the communication interfaces
    For PROFIBUS DP, CANopen, DeviceNet, Ethernet, Modbus and CS31.
  • Open interfaces
    DDE and OPC.
  • Programming
    Serial or via Ethernet or ARCNET networks.
  • Engineering interface
    Provides access from the programming system to an external project database in which the program source code of one or several automation projects is managed. Optionally, a version control system, such as Visual Source Safe, can be used in order to ensure data consistency of the program code for several different users and projects.

PLC or Mini DCS?

Freelance 800F - Small to Midrange Process Control

The ABB Freelance 800F controller is clearly a contender for small to midrange process control applications. It has the look and feel of a DCS system with the open networking flexibility of a PLC system. The systems engineering, graphics, configuration, commissioning, and diagnostics software prove this to be an integrated system with one software tool for engineering, commissioning, and online troubleshooting. Field device configuration is completely integrated into software and there is a uniform database throughout for control, graphics, historian, and I/O configuration. 

800F Controller

  • Supports redundant fieldbus device gateways, network redundancy, controller redundancy and, redundant operator interfaces.
  • 8 Megabyte and 16 Megabyte Controllers
  • Hot Swap I/O

IEC 61131-3 Programming

The programming environment supports all 5 IEC 61131-3 languages.

  • Function block diagram (FBD)
  • Ladder diagram (LD)
  • Instruction list (IL)
  • Sequential function chart (SFC)
  • Structured text (ST)
  • Over 150 predefined function blocks
  • User Created Function Block Function

Field Network Flexibility

ABB offers an extensive selection of devices to meet various needs and the system supports PROFIBUS, DPV1/PA, MODBUS, CAN for Freelance Rack I/O, FOUNDATION Fieldbus HSE/H1, HART via remote I/O, and Telecontrol protocol EC870-5-101.

Field Device Configuration

Configuring and displaying field devices is efficient and user-friendly using FDT/DTM (  The master is simultaneously configured in the process saving application engineering labor.

New AC700F Controller

The new AC 700F controller is the latest addition to the Freelance 800F.  The AC700F closes the gap between generic PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller) and complex process control systems. The controller is based on ABB's proven AC500 hardware providing a compact controller as part of the 800F system portfolio.  The AC 700F controller is integrated in the Freelance 800F system exactly the same way as the AC 800F controller.  With the AC 700F, ABB offers the performance of a process control system for the price of a PLC. The availability of Freelance 800F in various languages makes the new version with expandable scalability even more attractive for system integrators.   Up to eight local (analog/digital) I/O modules of type S700 may be connected to the CPU. The CPU is based on an industrial Motorola Power PC and features 8MB RAM. Compared to its “big brother” AC 800F, the process station’s dimensions have shrunk by a quarter. Through the use of proven software, the operator does not need to compromise the proverbial ease-of-operation and performance of the compact control system Freelance 800F.

Freelance 800F Product Information


ABB Totalflow Next-Generation Technology

The ABB Totalflow group ( demonstrated a number of new products.

G4 Series

The new G4 series is the fourth generation of ABB Totalflow XSeries flow computers (XFCG4) and remote controllers (XRCG4) designed to monitor, measure, and control oil and natural gas facilities significantly faster and more efficiently than its predecessor, the G3 series.

The XFCG4 series consists of low-power, microprocessor-based units that can meet a wide range of measurement, automation, monitor, control and alarming applications for a variety of remote oil and gas systems. The compatible XRCG4 series of remote controllers enables customers in the oil and gas industry to monitor measure and control their facilities from anywhere and at any time with the aid of sophisticated, proprietary software and wireless technology.

With the improved processing speed and memory capacity (203 MHz 32-bit microprocessor and Windows® CE operating system) of the XFCG4 and XRCG4, customers will now be able to run more applications faster than ever before. The G4 series offers 32 MB of program storage space and 16 MB of data storage space, far more storage capacity than the G3 models.

Another new feature of the G4 series is a standard Ethernet port that enables full networking capabilities. Each G4 unit is also equipped with a standard RS232 port for local configuration, and two available USB ports: one host port and one device port that can be used for flashing new firmware as well as high-speed local configuration and collection.

The base XFCG4 and XRCG4 models are the same price as G3 models, although customers can add many options to expand their G4 unit’s applications. The G4 series is also “backward” or functionally compatible with older software.  Every version of ABB Totalflow software works with every version of ABB Totalflow hardware, going back to the company’s earliest units.

WellTell Wireless

The new WellTell Wireless system integrates just like wire into Totalflow software (PCCU, WinCCU, etc.), has configurable poll rates for lower power consumption and more manageable data.  While WellTell Wireless looks just like a wire to Totalflow RTUs and Flow Computers, it mirrors wired functions without the cabling, trenching, environmental impact, and other headaches often associated with wireline.

WellTell also features battery protection that prevents permanent damage from over discharging, and because it’s wireless the system eliminates downstream equipment damage from lighting strikes.  

Online Natural Gas Chromatographs

The new NGC 8200 series online natural gas chromatography devices are compact and streamlined, modular design making them  easy to install, use and maintain on natural gas pipelines. Built with standardized, easily replaceable electro-mechanical modules, the NGC 8200 can be maintained by personnel with little or no prior knowledge of gas chromatography, which can significantly reduce overall maintenance expenses.

NGC 8200 models provide accurate and reliable knowledge of gas composition and other vital parameters to ensure the quality of the product, and to determine precise quantity when transferring the product for sale. With its custody-transfer/metrology-quality chromatography, the NGC 8200 delivers all of the measurement information required by producers, gatherers, processors, transporters, suppliers, industrial and commercial consumers, and everyone along the natural gas supply chain. This information includes relative density, heating value, velocity of sound, Wobbe index, hydrocarbon dew point, and gallons of liquid per thousand cubic feet.

With its explosion-proof rating, embedded controller, wide operating temperature, and small footprint, the NGC 8200 can be installed either on or very close to the sample probe site, which helps reduce sample transport times and the overall cost of ownership.   The NGC 8200 series is designed for operation at remote sites to operate on very little power, and can be solar-powered.

Totalflow SCADAvantage™ Software Systems 

Totalflow SCADAvantage™ Software is designed for oil and gas operations with features including self-configuring maps, smart screen templates, on-screen analysis tools, real-time and historical graphic trends, reports, standard daily nomination interface and gas schedule tracking.  This product is the result of a strategic decision to invest in the development of applications unique to the LDC (Local Distribution Company) market.  The software also integrates integrate GIS and GPS systems easily.

Technology Partners

ABB Technology Partners exhibiting and presenting at Automation World:

  • Center for Operator Performance (COP) - An alliance of academic and process companies to research generic issues in human factors and process operator performance. (
  • G. Michaels Consulting - Their flagship product, DBDOC, was developed to address the need for a comprehensive view of disparate system resources in process control systems. It provides support for the complete INFI 90 family of systems. (
  • Grace Engineered Products - Program interface ports, exclusive inside outlet GFCI receptacle, voltage vision and check/volt voltage warning & mechanical Lock-Out Tag-Out devices - all for mounting on electrical cabinets - all NFPA 70e & 79 compliant. (
  • Hirschmann Automation and Control - Develops and manufactures Ethernet/ networking equipment intended for harsh, mission-critical environments that require high network availability. (
  • Intergraph Process, Power & Marine - Creates solutions that enable the design, construction, and operation of process and power plants, offshore rigs and ships, and provides the information management capabilities to build and operate those facilities. (
  • Matrikon - Provides industrial intelligence solutions that enable manufacturing plants to achieve operational excellence by transforming production data into knowledge to predict and prevent problems and optimize operations. (
  • Matrox Graphics - Optimizing Operator Productivity and Command Center Design Efficiency Through Advances in Remote Graphics and Collaborative Graphics Technology. (
  • Metal Systems - Protection Solutions for Electrical & Electronic System Investments. (
  • MTL Instruments - World leader in the design and development of interfacing equipment for the process control and telecoms industries. (
  • Panasonic - Industrial computers and handheld HMI devices. (
  • Pepperl + Fuchs - Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus & Point to Point connectivity products. (
  • Powerohm Resistors - Dynamic braking and neutral grounding resistors, dynamic braking modules and analyzers. (
  • Trans-Coil - Provides active and passive harmonic filters, line reactors, output & motor protection filters that enhance the performance and protection of drives. (
  • TURCK Process Automation - Foundation Fieldbus Power conditioner and cabling. (
  • Westermo - Reliable industrial data communication products. (