Last week the ABB Users’ Conference, Automation & Power World, descended on the oil city of Houston with something over 4000 participants.
Read-out’s resources have never been sufficient to attend many of the user-group meetings of the various “big boy” automation companies but of late we have been able to get a flavour of them vicariously through the tweets and other online sharings of the attendees with active thumbs and a friendly mobile phone or Blackberry. The ABB event was no exception. As the different talks and presentations occured so tweets were being sent on twitter using the hashtag #APW10 so although people who were not among the throngs present they could eavesdrop while at their desks or on their mobile devices!
“Automation & Power World,” according to ABB, “was designed with a specific focus – to provide engineers and business leaders with a single event where they can experience and learn the latest in Automation and Power technology, and more importantly how it can benefit their business’ profitability.”
Malcolm Shearmur of ABB in Zurich (CH), reported from this ABB’s largest customer event for ABB in a special blog, (though his views, as he points out, are his own rather than those of ABB!). The exhibit area was some 9000 squre metres and opened on the 17th May. Some idea of the exhibits and the venue may be gained from the limited number of pictures on their picasa album and also from presentations which may be found of YouTube (See box on right for links to these and other reports!)
ControlGlobal’s Walt Boyes was among those tweeting and his publisher also provided a daily update of the talks and presentations suplemented by additional “in-depth” clarifications from Walt’s own “Sound Off” blog. For instance his “Peter Terwiesch Explains It All to Us!” and “Who Says the single loop controller is dead?” (Incidentally, and compl;etely of the point, Walt, always looking for information, recounts an encounter while he was waiting for his plane at Houston airport with a guy who’s product sounds like the answer to a maiden’s prayer post the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – take a look!)
The event kicked off with a wide-ranging address from ABB Group CEO Joe Hogan. He seems to have covered virtually everything from the Greek failure inside the Euro-zone, to the future for e-mobility; the fact that ABB robots polish the back of iPads and Carbon Dioxide emission (“60% of CO2 reduction solution will come from energy efficiency!”). He said “Smart Grids are where Power and Automation will merge!”
“Much of Hogan’s talk, as well as many sessions and exhibits in the 100,000 square foot exhibition hall, focused on power and energy efficiency. The theme begun last year at the merged “Power World” and “Automation World” conferences continued this year–the confluence of power and process automation.” reports Automation World’s Gary Mintchel in his Feed Forward blog. He goes on, “This fact was backed up by Chief Technology Officer Peter Terwisch’s presentation at the press briefing where he threw in one process automation comment at the end of an otherwise power and energy focused talk.”
So what new products impressed from afar? The new ABB Fieldkey device is a loop powered small footprint WirelessHART adaptor. Also a new generation of Swirlmeters. And Gary mentions an as yet un-launched producy “cpmPlus History – a new historian that not only is capable of acquiring tremendous quantities of data, but also has built-in tools for analysis and scripting capability for development custom analysis built on more complex math and algorithms if required by the customer application.”
Also highlighted was ABB’s recent acquisition of Ventyx an Atlanta (GA US) based software provider to global energy, utility, communications etc enterprises. They increase ABB’s offering with a broad range of solutions including: asset management, mobile workforce management, energy trading and risk management, energy operations and energy analytics. The company also provides software solutions for planning and forecasting electricity needs, including renewables.
All in all it appears to have been an interesting event, well attended and hopefully indicating the start of a slow climb into optimism!
It is hoped that Automation & Power World will return to Orlando (FL US) April 19-21, 2011 where the 2009 event was held!
Automation & Power World Brazil – 17/19 Aug 2010