ABB launches world’s first commercial modular enabled process automation solution

ABB introduces its new innovative digital technology at ACHEMA, offering process industries lower costs, reduced risks and improved schedule along with the ability to adapt to changing consumer demands.

This is the first solution to combine an orchestration layer and a module layer integrated with the technology of module type packages (MTPs).

With the ongoing need for personalized medicines, products with short production campaigns or smaller volumes of multiple products, traditional automation systems can be inflexible. ABB’s new modular automation system provides the flexibility that is needed through a building block approach that can be scaled up or down depending on the production demand.

The new modular automation system is ideal for pharmaceutical plants, biotech manufacturers, fine chemical factories and food and beverage industries. It is the first time that ABB offers a solution based on the modular automation concept to automate and orchestrate intelligent modules tailored to the plant’s manufacturing needs. The new solution also offers seamless integration with many existing systems, offering less downtime during implementation. The result is less support and troubleshooting and an improvement of run-time within the plant.

“As an automation leader, ABB is already involved in every aspect of process automation, offering machine controls, PLCs and other control technologies. It is a natural progression for us to be at the forefront of modular automation technology. Our solution offers the industry a new, one-stop shop approach which will encourage customers to think differently about how they build their process lines,” says ABB’s Gero Lustig, Global Business Manager Life Sciences.

The module layer contains a number of intelligent modules described as standardized MTP technology, each of which has different facets including human-machine interface (HMI), services for supervisory control, history, diagnostics and archiving. Within the intelligent modules controllers from ABB’s Freelance range are implemented using MTP technology.

These pre-automated intelligent modules can be easily added, arranged and adjusted according to production needs.

The orchestration layer is a combination of operations and supervisory control of the modules. ABB AbilityTM System 800xA operates the process and orchestrates the intelligent modules. The system also enables fast and flexible integration of the modules.

“With System 800xA we already have solutions for world-scale production and now we have enabled our technology to interface with smaller, independent modules,” says Lustig. “This provides the building block approach which defines modular automation.”

The System 800xA operations HMI functionality is enabled for operator effectiveness which allows for quick and intuitive decisions based on rapid access to data. Batch management applications can be used to improve batch production. Efficient alarm management and a high capacity and secure data storage for processing information is also available.

An open architecture backbone links the orchestration layer to the module layer with communication via OPC UA. Modular enabled automation reduces cost, risk and schedule by eliminating the non-standard interfaces. Integrating an intelligent module into the orchestration system is a matter of hours compared to days for a traditional package unit and skid integration.

Automation Update