Lifecycle Support Strategy Extends and Protects Automation System Life

ABB launched an ambitious lifecycle support program, Evolution for Life, that enables organisations to upgrade their existing ABB control systems and improve performance in a planned way to match their business needs.

Evolution for Life is a lifecycle support strategy for the service, maintenance and continuous upgrading of process automation systems. Tailored to specific industry needs, the strategy is designed to allow companies to plan ahead for the continuing but affordable development of their ABB automation systems to meet their changing needs.

The strategy provides a cost effective path to enable their businesses' automation systems to evolve, through a series of small, affordable steps, to meet their changing business circumstances, both commercial and technical. It will maintain plant performance not just through planned maintenance but by replacing specific equipment, if needed, and upgrading control system software. The aim is to ensure that these businesses do not reach a point where major investment in automation plant is the only way of ensuring their survival.

ABB's initiative takes a flexible approach to repair or replacement of equipment and control software. In this way a company can be sure that it has control of its manufacturing operations, eliminating risk and protecting tight margins. By taking the ABB route companies are able to maintain performance by taking small, affordable planned steps.

According to a recent report by ARC, the global value of installed automation systems in process manufacturing facilities that have reached the end of their lifecycle is estimated at $65 billion.

These aging closed systems are a barrier to integration and their operators need a migration plan to help them remain competitive. However, many migration solutions require extensive and expensive rework, automation application redevelopment and a disruptive rip and replace of existing equipment just to return functionality to current levels of performance. Through Evolution, ABB offers a viable, cost-effective approach that enables customers to preserve the massive capital and intellectual investment and experience residing in their existing applications, while taking advantage of new technologies by incorporating them into existing systems.

While state-of-the-art automation products are the foundation of ABB's Evolution strategy, simply attempting to incorporate new products into an existing system will not ensure success or provide the desired results. The products represent one prong of a comprehensive, four-pronged solution that includes: products; planning; after sales programmes; engineering and project delivery.

The cornerstone of Evolution is ABB's Extended Automated System 800xA that extends the reach of traditional DCS (Distributed Control Systems) beyond control of the process, to provide total plant management and control including: production management, safety, discrete and advanced control, information management, smart instrumentation, smart drives and motor control centres, asset management and documentation management capabilities.

Whatever a customer's original system – ABB's Advant, DCI, Freelance, INFI 90, Master, Melody, MOD 300, SATT, Symphony or a third-party system, it can be used as the basis on which to build a System 800xA installation.

A successful Evolution program begins with a solid plan driven by the customer's business goals. ABB works in close collaboration with the customer to carry out a comprehensive audit of their existing system and to understand their business drivers. It then submits a three to five year plan to be reviewed and revised as necessary. Together, the customer and ABB identify and target the facilities at greatest risk that should be considered in the short-term planning process. As each phase is identified, ABB provides value and return-on-investment ideas for consideration to facilitate successful project funding requests.

As part of Evolution, ABB promotes stepwise, incremental hardware and software upgrades to ensure that customers stay current and avoid hitting the brick wall of obsolescence — the cradle to cradle approach. Customers are also assured that any product purchased now will be supported well into the future — they will be available on the market until 2015, and supported until 2025 at least.

Engineering and delivery of solutions to customers are two important elements in the Evolution value chain. ABB has a team of highly trained and skilled operations engineers who work with the customer to carry out a comprehensive review of the requirements identified in the long-term plan. The ABB engineers than formulate a project plan to deliver the desired end results, protect the customer's investments and present the lowest risk possible during installation.

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    ABB