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ABB's new software reduces time spent on non-critical plant maintenance

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LNG Industry,

ABB has demonstrated that for non-critical plant measurements its soon-to-launch new verification software can reduce time spent on non-critical plant maintenance by up to 100%.

The new software was tested recently at its state-of-the-art research and teaching carbon capture and storage facility at Imperial College London.

Called ABB Ability™ Field Information Manager, the new software changes the way site maintenance can be conducted. Currently, plant instrumentation typically needs to be verified or calibrated by a trained maintenance technician. However, the new software connects plants devices to the cloud meaning operators can access diagnostic information 24 hours a day, seven days a week online. Access to this real-time data enables maintenance visits to be eliminated for non-critical equipment tests and for them to be performed less frequently for the most critical measurements.

Launched in April 2012 and located at Imperial’s central London campus, the award-winning carbon capture plant is the only facility of its kind in an academic institution in the world. It uses a combination of ABB’s instrumentation, drives, motors and process automation equipment to provide students with hands-on experience of pilot-scale industrial plant operations. The installation of the new verification software heralds a new era in plant operation and maintenance, utilising cloud technology.

David Bowers, product manager, ABB UK Measurement and Analytics, said: “The results of the Imperial pilot are very encouraging, leading us to confidently predict that, depending on the size and configuration of a plant, customers will be able to achieve anything from 70 to 100% reduction in time required for non-critical site maintenance.

“For customers, this has the potential to result in significant cost savings due to plant downtime being reduced and equipment being monitored real-time. This in turn helps to ensure that devices are operating at their peak performance with any degradation being identified before problems escalate to a process shutdown situation.

“It has also given students at Imperial College London a valuable insight into the cloud and remote access-based technologies. By using the facility as a test best for new ABB innovations, student can benefit from the latest state-of-the-art equipment. This puts them in good stead to understand how plants will be run and maintained in the future.”

ABB Ability™ is a unified, cross-industry digital offering — extending from device to edge to cloud — with devices, systems, solutions, services and a platform that provide customers greater performance insights upon which they make decisions that save time and money. The pilot saw Imperial College London fitted with an ABB Ability™ System 800xA control system and a comprehensive array of measurement instruments and analyzers which monitor and measure the performance of the plant and the conditions under which the carbon capture process are run.

Colin Hale, Senior Teaching Fellow & Lead Role in the carbon capture pilot scheme, said: “We have many international students studying at the College, and so the facility is on a world stage positioning the UK as the global centre of excellence and expertise for engineering education. Since the launch approximately 3400 students have come through the facility, with these being a mixture of our undergraduates, international students on placement - including those completing MSC and PHD qualifications - and also learners from local organisations. The facility allows them to experience the real world in the classroom and emerge as the next generation of engineers.”

ABB invested close to £1 million and signed a 10-year agreement with Imperial College London to support the carbon capture pilot plant teaching facility. In addition, the company provides summer placements of eight to ten weeks per annum in its UK operations, as well as a summer placement in Brisbane, Australia and also funds the final year of tuition fees for one student.

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