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Industrial Automation Concept Industrial IT Reloaded – A New Peak for Automation?

| Author / Editor: Interview conducted by Gerd Kielburger* / Gerd Kielburger

Industrial IT Reloaded —With Version 6 of their System 800xA process control system, ABB are seeking to conquer a new peak in process automation. What these process automation specialists are offering must be called, strictly speaking, Industrial IT Reloaded, says Tobias Becker, director of the global ABB business unit “Control Technologies”. Fundamentally, the 800xA is not a pure control system, but an integration platform for various systems — a platform that simultaneously serves as an information hub. PROCESS wanted to go deeper.

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Die neue Version 6 des ABB-Leitsystems 800xA bietet neben dem Alarmmanagement, erweiterten leittechnischen Funktionen, Videosystemen, Sicherheitsfunktionen, elektrischer Integration, Leistungsmanagement zahlreichen weiteren Charakteristika.
Die neue Version 6 des ABB-Leitsystems 800xA bietet neben dem Alarmmanagement, erweiterten leittechnischen Funktionen, Videosystemen, Sicherheitsfunktionen, elektrischer Integration, Leistungsmanagement zahlreichen weiteren Charakteristika.
(ABB)

? Mr. Becker, all automation specialists — including ABB — are currently riding on the Internet of Things wave. On the other hand, a current short study by the German Association VDI shows that this approach plays a far smaller role in future production in the chemical process industries than in other sectors. Are you, as process automation specialists, betting on the wrong horse?

Tobias Becker: No, absolutely not. On the contrary, the fact is that the process industry, in some cases, has already been using major elements of the fourth industrial revolution for years and, for once, is even ahead of factory automation.

Our customers, for example, have since 2004 been using the industrial IT functionalities of our System 800xA, which employs a fusion of physical and cybernetic objects to form aspect objects in order to allow intelligent, networked process control. The term Industry 4.0 or Internet of Things has not been used for this so far, but the approach and the philosophy behind it are very similar. Our customers experience substantial gains in productivity by using industrial IT.

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? Basically, you are saying that your System 800xA is not a pure control system, but an information hub?

Becker:Yes, what we offer with Version 6 must really be called, strictly speaking, Industrial IT Reloaded. In realising cyber physical systems, the concepts of integration and secure data availability play a central role.

We have therefore created, with our open System 800xA, an outstanding starting point. Ten years ago, we were already propagating our vision of Industrial IT — a fusion of office, the management level, the controlling area and the process control technology itself. Now we are getting closer and closer to the reality.

Can Higher Integration Lead to less Complexity?

? Doesn’t the complexity increase with the high level of integration?

Becker: The first impression is deceptive. Where earlier systems, e.g. for electrical power supply and production automation, had to operate in parallel, the 800xA now does it in one single integrated system.

In addition, many procedures which previously had to be carried out manually and in coordinated man–to–man teamwork are now linked in. In total, the complexity has even been reduced.

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