OK, so I’m on an ABB kick, it seems. Today is the annual report from the ARC Advisory Group on Distributed Control Systems (DCS) market share. And for the 21st consecutive year, the leader is ABB. 

When you are older, you have memories. I remember a time when it was just A and BB. The BB part purchased our building when a certain company president drove us into Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. (Not me, I tried to get us out.) Then A+BB=ABB, then ABB consolidating the DCS market by acquiring a number of companies. And ABB has managed not only to not screw up the acquisitions (which many companies do) but build a sustainable product line. Following is the release from ABB:

ARC estimates the global market valued at $15 billion. Holding an overall share of 19.2%, ABB leads the field thanks to its domain knowledge in multiple industries, extensive service network and a continued investment in technology and digital solutions that meet rapidly changing customer requirements. This puts ABB more than two points ahead of the nearest DCS competitor.

The largest share of 2019 DCS market growth came from oil and gas, chemicals, mining, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, followed by food & beverage, metals, cement, and pulp & paper. With its two main DCS offerings, ABB Ability System 800xA and ABB Ability Symphony Plus, ABB has a strong presence in each of these segments. ABB is also a leader in several of the key DCS trends identified in the report, including Modular Automation, Batch, Characterizable I/O, and Remote Services. 

As the DCS leader, ABB continuously develops new control benefits for customers. For example, by processing the massive amounts of data generated by the DCS, ABB continues to develop new data analytics that help customers to increase production efficiency, and leverage machine learning capabilities that improve problem predictability and extend asset life.

“I want to thank our customers for their longstanding support, helping us to shape ABB’s automation offering and expertise into what it is today,” said Bernhard Eschermann, Chief Technology Officer, ABB Industrial Automation. “Automation makes a difference in the world around us. The DCS is the backbone for much of the digitalization transforming our customers’ industries. It helps to provide many of the elements essential to modern society, such as the water we drink, the energy we consume, or the materials used to build our homes.”  

“During more robust economic times, process industry producers often rely on new production machinery to increase output. In the current highly demanding economic environment, customers are squeezing as much value as they can out of existing assets, running as efficiently as possible to protect profit margins. Maximizing assets and efficiencies is what DCS do,” he said. “We see it as our duty to continue to develop solutions that offer these benefits and more for our customers.”

A key focus of ABB’s annual $1.5 billion research & development investment is the further expansion of DCS and other digital and automation capabilities in the context of Industry 4.0. In July, ABB brought two new offerings to market that use DCS data with value-added applications to improve customer production availability, process performance and product quality. The ABB Ability Edgenius Operations Data Manager gleans value from DCS data, while the ABB Ability GenixIndustrial Analytics and AI Suite combines data from operations (e.g. DCS), engineering and information technology for multi-dimensional data analytics and decision support.

Services saw the highest growth in relation to software and hardware in the ARC report. This trend accelerated in 2020, which created a high need for remote services.  One such service, ABB Ability Collaborative Operations, a remote-enabled network of ABB experts and technologies, uses many ABB DCS technologies to remotely monitor and support customer assets and processes. ABB experts in ABB Collaborative Operations centers globally are available 24/7 to assist customers. The Collaborative Operations network continues to provide remote support for customers in travel-restricted situations.

https://new.abb.com/control-systems/system-800xa

Underground mining future

ABB electrification and automation knowledge and solutions have been employed in a pioneering mine of the future project, which has ultimate ambitions to demonstrate zero carbon dioxide emissions and productivity increases of 50 percent.

ABB has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, high-visualization and mobile operator workplaces as part of a global mining partnership to visualize a once-in-a-generation technology shift and reduce climate impact.

Devised by LKAB, the Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project has the goal of setting a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths in partnership with ABB, Combitech, Epiroc, and Sandvik. The framework outlines ambitions for zero carbon dioxide emissions, completely safe mines for humans, productivity increases of 50 per cent and deeper mining.

ABB will continue to contribute its knowledge in electrification, automation and workplaces together with other suppliers to the mining industry. The collaboration aims to find new methods and smarter solutions for mining operations in the future. Test work in LKAB’s Kiruna mine, northern Sweden, as well as a virtual test mine will study the best way to build a carbon dioxide free and autonomous production system. 

Within the mine, the Konsuln orebody is used to demonstrate future workplaces in a decentralized environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment. Real time process information is available to all organizations involved. When combined with the wider efforts of the SUM partnership, this shows a way of bringing completely new technology solutions to market for safer, more sustainable and more efficient mining production processes. 

“We are taking significant strides towards a vision of the future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results,” said Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB, and one of the leaders in the project. “Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective, modernization. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.

“It is becoming increasingly common for suppliers to create dedicated collaboration groups to reach the best possible solutions for their customers. Collective successes and progress and the meeting of key targets for SUM, are initial evidence of the mutual benefits of collaboration.”

ABB has a relatively large team committing time to the project, with experts in digitalization and research, as well as electrification and automation. 

By 2022, the ABB electrification and automation solutions will be fully installed, and the aim is that a new standard for mining production will be set globally by 2030.

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