The world of virtual commissioning.

15/06/2018
Robert Glass, global food and beverage communications manager at ABB explores the concept of virtual commissioning and how system testing can benefit the food industry.

In 1895, pioneer of astronautic theory, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, developed the concept of the space elevator, a transportation system that would allow vehicles to travel along a cable from the Earth’s surface directly into space. While early incarnations have proven unsuccessful, scientists are still virtually testing new concepts.

Industry 4.0 continues to open up new opportunities across food and beverage manufacturing. In particular, these technologies help improve manufacturing flexibility and the speed and cost at which manufacturers are able to adapt their production to new product variations. Virtual commissioning is one of these key technologies.

What is virtual commissioning?
Virtual commissioning is the creation of a digital replica of a physical manufacturing environment. For example, a robotic picking and packing cell can be modeled on a computer, along with its automation control systems, which include robotic control systems, PLCs, variable speed drives, motors, and even safety products. This “virtual” model of the robot cell can be modified according to the new process requirements and product specifications. Once the model is programmed, every step of that cell’s operation can be tested and verified in the virtual world. If there are changes that are needed in the process automation or robot movement, these can be made on the same computer, allowing the robot to be reprogrammed, orchanges made to the variable speed drives and PLC programming. The ABB Ability™ RobotStudio is one tool that enables this type of virtual commissioning.

Once reprogrammed, the system is tested again and if it passes, it’s ready for physical deployment. This is where the real benefits become tangible. By using virtual commissioning to program and test ahead of time, less process downtime is required and manufacturers can reduce the changeover risks.

Automation programming and software errors in a system can be incredibly difficult and costly to rectify, particularly if they are found later on in the production process. Research by Austrian software testing frim Tricentis, estimated that software bugs, glitches and security failures cost businesses across the world $1.1 trillion.

To achieve the full potential of virtual commissioning, the simulation must be integrated across the entire plant process, including both the planning and engineering phase. Known as simulation-based engineering, this step is integral for the installation of reliable systems. The use of simulations in a plant is not a new concept, in fact virtual commissioning has been researched for more than a decade.

The benefits
The implementation of virtual commissioning brings with it a number of benefits. The ‘try before you buy’ concept allows plant managers to model and test the behavior of a line before making any physical changes. This saves time as the user can program the system’s automation while testing and fixing errors. The use of a digital model can also reduce risk when changing or adding processes.

One company which has seen significant improvements in production since investing in virtual commissioning is Comau, a supplier of automotive body and powertrain manufacturing and assembly technologies. Comau’s head of engineering and automation systems, Franceso Matergia, said: “We were able to reprogram 200 robots in just three days using virtual commissioning as opposed to roughly 10 weekends had the work been done on the factory floor.”

Just as you wouldn’t build a space elevator without meticulous planning and years of small scale prototyping, it’s very cost and time beneficial to build and test in a virtual environment where you can find the bugs and discover the unforeseen challenges and mitigate them without added downtime or loss of production. It’s much better to discover that bug while on the ground versus at 100,000 feet midway between the surface of the earth and that penthouse in space.

@ABBgroupnews #PAuto @StoneJunctionPR
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Blockchain: the future of food traceability?

20/04/2018
Shan Zhan, global business manager at ABB’s food and beverage business, looks at how blockchain* can be used to enhance food traceability.

“The Blockchain, can change…well everything.” That was the prediction of Goldman Sachs in 2015. There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about Blockchain, particularly around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but just as the investment bank giant predicted, the technology is starting to have more wide-reaching impacts on other sectors.

A report from research consultancy Kairos Future describes blockchain as a founding block for the digitalization of society. With multinationals such as IBM and Walmart driving a pilot project using blockchain technology for traceability, the food and beverage industry needs to look at the need for the protection of traceability data.

The United Nations recognizes food security as a key priority, especially in developing countries. While most countries must abide by strict traceability regulations, which are particularly strong in the EU, other regions may not have the same standards or the data may be at risk of fraud.

Food fraud is described by the Food Safety Net Services (FSNS) as the act of purposely altering, misrepresenting, mislabeling, substituting or tampering with any food product at any point along the farm-to-table food supply chain. Since the thirteenth century, laws have existed to protect consumers against harm from this. The first instance recorded of these laws was during the reign of English monarch King John, when England introduced laws against diluting wine with water or packing flour with chalk.

The crime still exists to this day. While malicious contamination intended to damage public health is a significant concern, a bigger problem is the mislabeling of food for financial gain. The biggest areas of risk are bulk commodities such as coffee and tea, composite meat products and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) labelled fish. For example, lower-cost types of rice such as long-grain are sometimes mixed with a small amount of higher-priced basmati rice and sold as the latter. By using blockchain technology in their traceability records, food manufacturers can prevent this from happening.

Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology that keeps a digital record of all transactions. The records are broadcasted to a peer-to-peer (P2P) network consisting of computers known as nodes. Once a new transaction is verified, it is added as a new block to the blockchain and cannot be altered. And as the authors of Blockchain Revolution explain, “the blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value”.

When records of suppliers and customers are collected manually, to ensure the end manufacturer can trace the entire process, this does not protect the confidential data of suppliers. Blockchain technology anonymizes the data but it is still sufficient to ensure that the supply chain is up to standard.

In the case of mislabeled basmati rice, blockchain technology would prevent food fraud as the amount of each ingredient going into the supply chain cannot be lower than the volume going out. This would flag the product as a fraudulent product.

Not only can it help to monitor food ingredients, it can also monitor the conditions at the production facility. These are often very difficult to verify and, even if records are taken, they can be falsified. A photo or digital file can be taken to record the situation, such as a fish being caught, to show that it complies with the MSC’s regulations on sustainably caught seafood.

The blockchain will then create a secure digital fingerprint for this image that is recorded in the blockchain, known as a hash. The time and location of the photograph will be encrypted as part of this hash, so it cannot be manipulated. The next supplier in the blockchain will then have a key to this hash and will be able to see that their product has met the regulations.

Food and beverage manufacturers can also use blockchain to ensure that conditions at their production facilities are being met, or any other data that needs to be securely transferred along the production line. While we are not yet advanced enough with this technology to implement across all food and beverage supply chains, increased digitalization and being at the forefront of investment into these technologies will help plant managers to prepare their supply chain against the food fraud threat.

* The Wikipedia entry on Blockchain!

@ABBgroupnews #PAuto #Food @FSNSLABS @MSCecolabel

Closing historic gap in machine and factory automation.

01/05/2017

B&R, the largest independent provider focused on product- and software-based, open-architecture solutions for machine and factory automation worldwide has been acquired by ABB.

B&R, founded in 1979 by Erwin Bernecker and Josef Rainer is headquartered in Eggelsberg, Austria, employs more than 3,000 people, including about 1,000 R&D and application engineers. It operates across 70 countries, generating sales of more than $600 million (2015/16) in the $20 billion machine and factory automation market segment. The combination will result in an unmatched, comprehensive offering for customers of industrial automation, by pairing B&R’s innovative products, software and solutions for modern machine and factory automation with ABB’s world-leading offering in robotics, process automation, digitalization and electrification.



A video of This announcement and other details here on the ABB Website (4 April 2017)

Benefits for Austria
With this acquisition, ABB becomes the largest industrial automation player in Austria. ABB has operated in Austria for more than 100 years. With the strong future role, B&R and its headquarters in Austria will play as part of ABB, Austria, particularly Upper Austria, will benefit. The planned expansion of the R&D and production activities in Eggelsberg and Gilgenberg will strengthen Austria’s high-tech industrial landscape.
Transaction financials
The transaction multiple is in line with peer valuations. The parties agreed not to disclose the purchase price. ABB will finance the acquisition in cash. The transaction is expected to be operationally EPS accretive in the first year, and is expected to add significant synergies of about 8% of B&R’s stand-alone revenue in year four. The transaction is expected to close in summer 2017, subject to customary regulatory clearances.

Through the acquisition, ABB expands its position in industrial automation and be uniquely positioned to seize growth opportunities resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industrie 4.0). In addition, ABB takes a major step in expanding its digital offering by combining its industry-leading portfolio of digital solutions, ABB Ability, with B&R’s strong application and software platforms, its large installed base, customer access and tailored automation solutions.

“B&R is a gem in the world of machine and factory automation and this combination is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This transaction marks a true milestone for ABB, as B&R will close the historic gap within ABB’s automation offering. This is a perfect fit and will make us the only industrial automation provider offering customers the entire spectrum of technology and software solutions around measurement, control, actuation, robotics, digitalization and electrification,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “This acquisition perfectly delivers on our Next Level strategy. With our unique digital offering and our installed base of more than 70 million connected devices, 70,000 control systems and now more than 3 million automated machines and 27,000 factory installations around the world, we enable our combined global customer base to seize the huge opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“This combination offers fantastic opportunities for B&R, its customers and employees. We are convinced that ABB offers the best platform for the next chapter of our growth story. ABB’s global presence, digital offering and complementary portfolio will be key for us to further accelerate our pace of innovation and growth,” said Josef Rainer, co-founder of B&R.

“This is a strong signal for our employees as our operations in Eggelsberg will become ABB’s global center for machine and factory automation,” said Erwin Bernecker, the other co-founder of B&R. “The most important thing to me is that the companies and their people fit so well together and that our founding location will play such a key role.”

Complementary strengths
With the acquisition, ABB will expand its industrial automation offering by integrating B&R’s innovative products in PLC, Industrial PCs and servo motion as well as its software and solution suite. ABB will offer its customers a uniquely comprehensive, open-architecture automation portfolio.

B&R has grown successfully with a revenue CAGR of 11 % over the last two decades. Revenues more than quintupled since 2000 to more than $600 million (2015/16). The company has a rapidly growing global customer base of more than 4,000 machine manufacturers, a proven track record in automation software and solutions and unrivaled application expertise for customers in the machine and factory automation market segment.

Both companies have complementary portfolios: ABB as a leading provider of solutions serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure; B&R as a leading solution provider in the automation of machines and factories for industries such as plastics, packaging, food and beverage. The joint commitment to open architecture increases customer choice and flexibility facilitating connectivity in increasingly digitalized industries.

Substantial investments in innovation
Innovation is at the heart of both companies. B&R invests more than 10 percent of its sales in R&D and employs more than 1,000 people in R&D and application engineering. ABB spends $1.5 billion annually on R&D and employs some 30,000 technologists and engineering specialists. Going forward, ABB and B&R will continue to invest considerably in R&D.

Automation of machines and factories is a key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the IoT. ABB will continue B&R’s strong solution-based business model and build on its deep domain expertise to develop new software-based services and solutions for end-to-end digitalization. ABB’s industry-leading digital offering, ABB Ability, will now capitalize on the large installed base, application and solution know-how, simulation software expertise and advanced engineering tools of B&R.

Proven integration approach
On closing of the transaction, B&R will become part of ABB’s Industrial Automation division as a new global business unit – Machine & Factory Automation – headed by the current Managing Director, Hans Wimmer. Both companies consider B&R’s management and employees as a key driver of future growth and the business integration together with their counterparts from ABB. The co-founders of B&R, Erwin Bernecker and Josef Rainer, will act as advisors during the integration phase to ensure continuity.

The integration will be growth-focused and live by the “best-of-both-worlds” principle, with ABB adding its own PLC and servo drive activities to the offering of the new business unit in a phased approach. ABB underlines its clear commitment to continuing the B&R growth story by articulating a mid-term sales ambition to exceed $1 billion.

ABB is committed to further investing in the expansion of B&R’s operations and to building on the company’s successful business model and brand. B&R’s headquarters in Eggelsberg will become ABB’s global center for machine and factory automation.

@ABBgroupnews #PAuto #Industry4

ABB Process instrumentation, analytical technology and gas detection in Ireland

19/01/2015

Hanley Measurement & Control has built a reputation for the supply of specialist solutions and expertise in process instrumentation, process analytical technology and gas detection. Founded in 1981 it has long been considered as a leading automation in Ireland. The company has recently been appointed as channel partner in Ireland by ABB, to expand its instrument and analyser offering into the Irish process market

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 3 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 2.4 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

The partnership will see the company acting as the official sales agent for ABB’s complete portfolio of instrumentation and analyser products for applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage and other related industries.

Chris Kennedy, Managing Director of Hanley Measurement & Control commented that “partnering with ABB enables the company to provide its customers with an enhance product range specifically in relation to flow measurement and analytical solutions.”

Commenting on the partnership, Tim Door, General Manager for ABB’s Measurement and Analytics business in the Britain and Ireland says: “The partnership with Hanley Measurement and Control marks a positive move forward that underlines our intent to grow our presence in the Irish process market. The company is a great fit for our growing range of measurement and control products for improving process performance and efficiency.”

“Utilising a well-known and respected partner such as Hanley Measurement & Control will allow our customers in Ireland to get full access to support and service going forward into 2015 and beyond.”

• Following the completion of a management buyout Hanley Measurement & Control is no longer part of the Hanley group of companies. Hanley Measurement & Control is now a subsidiary of Eolas Scientific which also has an operating company in the UK called Eolas Technology. The management team of Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll and Eoin O’Neill are committed to ensuring our customers receive exceptional service and a world class range of products.

#WiFi for La Serenissima! ABB connects Venice!

21/10/2013
High-performance wireless broadband solution provides free Internet access in one of the world’s most iconic cities

The high-performance wireless broadband network for the city of Venice (I) has been commissioned by ABB . The network provides free Internet access for residents and businesses and (for a small fee) the 22 million tourists who visit the city every year. The contract was awarded by the Municipality of Venice.

Canalside scene in Venice

Canalside scene in Venice

The Wi-Fi solution comprises a network of fixed and mobile nodes that can handle more than 200 gigabytes of data and 40,000 subscribers a day. It is equipped with 200 wireless mesh routers, that have been supplied by Tropos Networks, a company acquired by ABB in 2011, which now forms a part of ABB’s comprehensive communications offering. The routers are deployed in discrete enclosures that blend aesthetically with the city’s historical architecture.

Venice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its majestic buildings and narrow winding streets. Built on a group of 118 small islands, the city is separated by canals and linked together by bridges. Venice enjoys an unrivalled reputation as a romantic and beautiful city, which also makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

“Our solution provides reliable high-capacity Wi-Fi access and seamless Internet roaming in the challenging topography of this historic and beautiful city,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division . “The technology offers fast and easy deployment and blends well with the environment.”

Among the features that differentiate the solution is its ability to switch automatically between two frequencies (2.4 and 5 gigahertz). This ensures maximum signal strength and continuous connectivity, even in narrow and winding alleys where there is no line of sight. The onboard routers that provide reliable and seamless roaming for users on water buses that traffic the Grand Canal and other waterways of the city are another distinguishing feature. As Venice residents typically travel 30 minutes a day by boat, the ability to access the network is a welcome convenience. Scalability and ease of installation are other benefits offered by the solution.

The Venice Wi-Fi project is part of the ‘Free ItaliaWifi’ initiative, started by Rome, Venice and the island of Sardinia. Its objective is to create a national network of free wireless broadband networks. The initiative currently embraces 41 networks, 2,130 Wi-Fi hotspots and 427,000 members in Italy.


ABB & Zenith join forces for life sciences in China & India

28/09/2012
Combined expertise to help customers in China and India meet new industry regulations

ABB and system integrator Zenith Technologies have announced that they will work together to develop and implement automation solutions that will help life science customers in China and India meet new regulatory and product safety requirements.

Headquartered in Cork (IRL), Zenith Technologies is a leading Global Automation and MES Engineering company which focuses exclusively on the life science industry.

ABB will collaborate with Zenith to implement solutions based on ABB’s market leading System 800xA and Freelance automation systems, for the growing life sciences industry in China and India. ABB and Zenith will also deliver solutions that use ABB’s PAT (Process Analytical Technology) and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) technology. Increasing governmental regulations, and new requirements that mandate compliance with Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards and other food safety regulations have made it imperative for life sciences companies in China and India to be able to accurately track products at all points in the manufacturing process to ensure high quality and safety.

“ABB’s field-proven automation solutions, combined with Zenith’s expertise in implementing systems designed to meet these validation requirements, will help our mutual customers in this region improve their overall process and product quality, and meet current and future regulations,” said Tobias Becker, head of ABB Control Technologies. “Our collective knowledge can help our customers better understand how these requirements impact their manufacturing process and what steps are needed to comply with them.


#EFMExpo – an industrial event in Cork

30/09/2011

Instrument Technology exhibit at EFM Exhibition in Cork

It is quite a number of years since the capital of Munster hosted an industrial exhibition so it was a great pleasure to reaquaint ourselves with many old and indeed new friends at the ENFMExpo held in the Silver Springs complex on the 27th and 28th of September.

The Exhibitors!
ABB Limited
ACE Control Systems
ADA Security Systems
ADI Ireland Ltd
Alpha Sign Nameplate & Decal
Alternative Heating & Cooling Ltd
Apex Fire Ltd

Bord Gáis Networks
Business Safety
Butler Transtest

Camfil Irl Ltd
Clarke Energy Ireland

Clasit Beecher
Complete Alternative Energy
Cooper Industries
Cross Hire
CSC LTD Chemical Systems
Cylon Active Energy

Dalkia

Edina Ltd
EFT Control Systems
EMC Energy
Eurotech Calibration Services Ltd

Finning (Ireland) Ltd
Firebird Boilers
Focus Hygiene Supplies Limited
Frontline Energy & Environmental

GARO Electric Irl
Gem Utilities
General Electronic Access Ltd
GSH Group Ireland

Honeywell
HSG Zander Ireland Ltd

In’Flector Ireland Ltd
Instrument Technology – ABB
Irish Cooling Towers
Irish Industrial Coatings
Irish Power & Process Ltd

Kellihers Electrical

Manotherm
MARK EIRE B.V.
Moloney & Associates

Newbridge Metal Products Ltd

O Neill Industrial Ltd

Phoenix Contact (Irl) Ltd
powerPerfector Ireland Ltd
Premium Power
PurchaseControl.com

Radio & Security Products Ltd
Rittal Ltd
RPS Group

Sartorius Mechatronics Ireland Ltd
Sartorius Stedim Ireland
Screenguard Ltd
Shred-it
Sirus Engineering Systems

TEMP TECHNOLOGY/ENER.G
Traka KMS Ltd

Watersave

The event promised the  latest developments in Energy Management, Facilities Management along with Safety Health & Security. It was an opportunity too to meet industry experts at the concurrent seminars discussing the latest ideas, technology and services capable of helping plants to increase efficiency.

Over 60 companies exhibited and some of these provided speakers for the almost 20 different seminar talks given throughout the period of the show.

Of course our principal interest was the area of automation and there were a number of instrument companies and system providers among these. We provide a short impression of some of these here.

Manotherm is a company which hardly needs an introduction in Ireland. They have, since time immemorial it seems, been supplying Irish industry with control and instrumentation products, the basics of all process, manufacturing and construction industry automation requirements. They have been called the Instrumentation Supermarket and many times they have come to the rescue in solving a knotty problem with an instrument, sensor or valve, from their extensive stock.

John Watts

JS Watts of Schubert & Salzer

One of their principals, Schubert & Salzer gave one of the seminars on control valves in reducing energy consumption, handling and maintenace costs. John Watts discussed their GS 3 valve – a handy light and highly accurate valve based on principles discussed many centuries by Leonardo da Vinci. Known as a sliding gate valve, the GS3 seat design features a non turbulent, straight through flow path.  The flow is broken apart into multiple streams creating a reduced field of energy.  The result is greater service life, quieter operation and a control valve that performs at the highest levels possible within extreme conditions.

Instrument Technology, who are now  associates for marketing the line of ABB process instruments, had a large selection of flow, pressure and temperature instruments from this range. They marketed the Fisher & Porter range for many years and after the takeover of F&P by ABB their association with the larger entity is a logical development.

A new company to us was Eurotech Calibration Services (ECSL) where Kevin Davis showed the New Zealand based Temprecord range of temperature mapping and monitoring instrumentation. Aplications included the transportaion of blood for transfusions a truly critical application. This company provides calibration to the pharma, medical device, food and beverage industries as well as to other sectors.

Representing the Yokogawa interest, Irish Power & Process  displayed field instrumentation and calibration equipment. These cover, data acquisition, analytical, pressure, flow, wired and wireless – using ISA 100 standard. This company also represents Fluke test and measurement equipment and Camille Bauer.

Phoenix Contact are leading edge manufacturers of industrial control and automation solutions. They have an enviable reputation in the energy industry as suppliers of terminal blocks, DC UPS and Power Supplies surge protection devices, HMIs, IPCs and Wireless communications.

The very active Ireland Section of the International Society of Automation (ISA) also had a stand under the watchful eye of Douglas Control & Automation’s Declan Lordan.

The event was organised by SDL Exhibitions with their usual flair an  professionalism and hopefully this successful show will see a return of industrial events as the ecnomic situation improves in the years to come.

The busy Manotherm Stand at EFM