Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ABB introduces express analytical panel hire service for power and water industry applications

July 1, 2015

As part of our drive to make measurement as easy as possible, we are delighted to reveal that we have introduced a new analytical panel hire service. Launched at IWEX 2015, the hire panels provide a flexible solution for the measurement of selected key parameters in potable water treatment and power generation applications, with unlimited lending periods and full technical support.

Every day, companies hire equipment to carry out their business, such as cars, PCs, laptops and even their premises. With that in mind, there’s no reason why this same approach can’t be applied to analytical panel hire, where companies often need the flexibility provided by a temporary solution with the same level of functionality that would normally be associated with a purchased system.

The analytical hire panels are ideal for situations where it may be either impractical or not worthwhile to purchase a permanent system. Typical situations where a hire panel might be used include replacing faulty analysers out for repair, validating the accuracy of a currently installed system, or as an additional measurement when evaluating the efficiency of a treatment process.

They can also be useful where companies may want to assign expenditure to operational costs where a capital budget may not be immediately available.

There are currently three options each for use in power and water industry applications. For power, the panels can be used for cation conductivity measurement, silica measurement and sodium measurement.

For water, there is the option of panels for measurement of aluminium, turbidity or ammonia. All of the panels are supplied with a comprehensive array of equipment providing accurate and reliable measurement. Each one also includes data loggers to record and store measurement data which can be relayed to control systems via Ethernet and Modbus.

Companies have the freedom to keep the equipment for as long as it’s needed – the hire works on a weekly rate with no limit on the duration and no pressure to return items by a specific deadline.

Hiring also provides the added security of having someone else to manage the equipment. The express hire service comes with full technical support, including everything needed to install and commission the panels. To help ensure trouble-free operation, the hire agreement also covers consumables and the supply of original equipment with manufacturer approved parts.

With ABB, plants can expect next day delivery, plug-and-play setup and an expert service engineer to help set the panel up and get it running quickly. There’s also the reassurance of having telephone support during office hours, so in the unlikely event of any problems with the panel there will be help available.

To find out more about the analytical panel hire service, email or call 0870 600 6122 ref. ‘Analytical panels’.


Profibus health check delivers faster communications for Imperial College London’s carbon capture plant

June 1, 2015

A Profibus health check carried out by ABB has enabled Imperial College London to improve the performance of its instrumentation and control system used as part of its carbon capture pilot plant teaching facility. Carried out by ABB’s Measurement and Analytics Service team, the health check highlighted various potential improvements that could be made to the plant’s Profibus network, which have resulted in the data transfer rate being trebled.

Opened in 2012, the carbon capture pilot plant is part of Imperial College’s £8.9 million ChemEngSpace Project and is used for undergraduate teaching, with over 300 chemical engineering students having access each year.

The plant uses an extensive selection of the same ABB proven products and systems that are used in a broad range of industrial applications worldwide. It’s designed so that students acquire hands-on experience of ABB’s integrated systems and products in an operational cutting-edge industrial application. ABB equipment used on the plant includes flow, pressure, temperature and level instruments, pH analysers, positioners, a gas analyser, low voltage drives and motors, low voltage products and a System 800xA distributed control system.

All of the data from the plant is relayed to the control system through several different communication protocols including Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus and Wireless.

Together, this equipment enables students to gain valuable practical experience of plant operation that will help prepare them for a career in chemical or process engineering.

As part of its 10 year support agreement with Imperial College London, ABB was keen to carry out a health check on the Profibus communications system to help assess its performance. A Profibus analyser was connected to the network to capture a variety of performance-related information, including the data transfer rate, signal strength and any interference or noise. The analyser scans for approximately 30 minutes to an hour and records the communications data to give an indication of efficiency.

The results were revealing. Originally under the impression that the optimum speed for performance was 500kb/second, ABB Service Engineer Paul Bick actually found that in the case of the carbon capture plant, the best speed was 1500kb/second. Increasing the speed to this new limit immediately produced a significant improvement in response time from the instruments. Imperial College were using the slower speed out of caution, but the Profibus health check helped to establish that a higher data transfer rate was achievable.

Paul Bick also took the time to check the network installation, “On a Profibus network, a minimum of one metre of cable length should be used between each instrument. It was discovered that the drives had less than one metre. This didn’t conform to the Profibus guidelines. We therefore recommended that it was extended. Now it works better – without the length there can be issues with reflections, data corruptions and interferences.”

Overall, the Profibus communications network performed well before the health check. But through this procedure a few improvements were made which helped optimise performance, and enabled the students at Imperial to understand what kind of maintenance is required in a real world plant setting, and the significant difference it can make.

Dr Colin Hale, Senior Teaching Fellow at the college says, “A great thing about the plant is that it can be used not only to teach our students about carbon capture, but also about wider issues connected with plant control and instrumentation, including best practice. The improvements produced by the health check are a great example of the valuable contribution that maintenance can make to a system’s performance.”

The Profibus health check is part of a broader range of health check and life cycle services offered by ABB to help users to get the most from their installed instruments and analysers. For more information, email or call 03339 997 996, ref. ‘Health checks’.

Who says there’s no innovation in water?

May 20, 2015


Whole Government reports have been devoted to the subject of innovation in the UK water industry. The general gist is that, despite all of the money and effort that has gone into upgrading the UK’s water infrastructure since the industry was privatised 25 years ago, much more needs to be done to encourage the uptake of new technologies that could help to improve overall operational efficiency.

This situation looks to change with the introduction of TOTEX (TOTal EXpenditure). With its focus on total life expenditure and holistic network performance, TOTEX looks set to provide a fertile environment for innovation, as companies evolve to develop their understanding of their existing asset base. In particular, TOTEX replaces the previous CAPEX/OPEX focus on ‘outputs’ with an ‘outcome’-led approach, which places a much greater emphasis on achieving and demonstrating asset and network effectiveness.

Whilst embracing innovation may well have been lacking amongst water operators, the supply chain at least appears to be ahead of the game. This was particularly apparent at the recent IWEX exhibition at the Birmingham NEC, where suppliers of technology, expertise and water-related services presented their latest offerings.

Taking ABB’s exhibition stand as a starting point, visitors were shown the latest examples of the latest instruments, analysers, drives and motors for potable and wastewater applications. Several of these represent cutting edge developments. Our AquaMaster 3 flowmeter for example, is the first in the world to combine integrated flow and pressure measurement in a single device. It is also the first to feature WITS DNP3 technology, which allows operators to gain, via GPRS communications, unprecedented access to a range of performance data, including diagnostic data on the status of the meter itself.

We also had the first in our range of digital optical sensors, which use the latest advances in optical measurement technology to deliver stable and accurate measurement whilst maintaining calibration without drift.

Both of these instruments are good examples of the type of equipment that can be used to deliver the big data from a network that can be turned into information and used as the basis for operational decision-making in a TOTEX environment.

Energy and maintenance form another crucial part of the TOTEX equation, with savings in either area making an obvious contribution to reducing overall lifetime costs. Again, ABB’s stand provided examples of some of the latest thinking in this area, including our SynRM (synchronous reluctance motor) and drive package for the water industry. Offering good partial load efficiency performance for all pumping applications, the package combines the benefits of a premium motor control with the highest levels of motor performance, giving ultimate efficiency and reliability to optimise pump system cost of ownership.

ABB’s stand was just one of dozens representing the latest developments in technology, spanning all aspects of the potable and wastewater treatment cycles.

In short, the innovation to help water companies transform their network performance is definitely out there. The challenge now is to move beyond a short term cost focus, which has too often led to the selection of the cheapest cost rather than the best value solutions, and work with suppliers to see what they can really offer.

If you’d like to find out more about how measurement instrumentation can be used to help you meet your TOTEX targets, why not request a copy of our new white paper ‘The role of performance data in optimising assets under TOTEX’. For a copy, email: or call 0870 600 6122 ref. ‘TOTEX’.

Analytical measurement made even easier with our new hiring option

April 20, 2015

Every day, companies hire equipment to carry out their business, such as cars, PCs, laptops and even their premises. This process includes the hire duration, standard rate and a contract, ensuring the unit is returned as it was originally provided.

Seeing no reason why this couldn’t be applied to industrial analysis, ABB Measurement and Analytics Service is now offering the power and water industries the same ability to hire analytical panels for measurement of selected key parameters.

When it comes to analytical measurement, there may be several reasons why it can sometimes be better to hire than to buy. There could be a faulty monitor that needs replacement while it is repaired, or your company may want to test the efficiency of a particular process or ensure your current measurement system is working correctly.

You may want to compare the efficiency of your existing analysers with an alternative from another supplier, or simply want a back-up option to hand to keep processes running in the event of a breakdown.

Alternatively, you may just want the ability to assign expenditure to operational costs where a capital budget may not be immediately available.

Hiring also gives you the added peace of mind of having someone else to manage your equipment for you. The express hire service comes with everything you’d expect from a hire agreement, including the supply of the panels and the services needed to install and commission them. Every aspect is taken care of to help ensure trouble-free operation, with the hire covering consumables, original equipment with manufacturer approved parts and low operational expenses.

All of the panels also include data loggers to record and store measurement data which can be relayed to your control system via Ethernet and Modbus.

There are currently three options each for use in power and water industry applications.

For power, the panels can be used for cation conductivity measurement, silica measurement and sodium measurement.
For water, there is the option of panels for measurement of aluminium, turbidity or ammonia.

All of the panels are supplied with a comprehensive array of equipment giving you everything you need for accurate and reliable measurement.

Why hire from ABB?

There are many reasons why a power or water company may wish to use the ABB express hire service. With ABB, you can rely on next day delivery, plug-and-play setup and an expert service engineer to help you get your panel up and running quickly. There’s also the reassurance of having telephone support during office hours, so in the unlikely event of any problems with the panel, you know there will be help available.

You also have the freedom to have the equipment for as long as you need it – the hire works on a weekly rate with no limit on the duration and no pressure to return items by a specific deadline.

The hire service is part of our drive to make measurement as easy as possible, wherever and however you need to do it, and to ensure that you always get the service and support you need to optimise the efficiency of your process.

To find out more about the analytical panel hire service, email or call 03339 997 996 ref. ‘Analytical panels’.

ABB takes the lead at Global Water Leakage Summit

March 6, 2015


We are delighted to announce that ABB will once again be taking the role of the lead sponsor at the seventh Global Water Leakage Summit, being held at the Thistle Marble Arch, London 17th – 18th March.

As a leading supplier of technology for water and wastewater treatment and distribution applications, ABB has been involved with the event since its inception. Started in 2008, the
Global Water Leakage Summit provides a forum for leakage practitioners from around the world to demonstrate and exchange best practice around tackling leakage in water distribution networks.

“Continued increases in the world’s population are putting ever greater pressure on the availability of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes,” says Tim Door, UK and Ireland General Sales Manager for ABB’s Measurement and Analytics business. “Water distribution networks worldwide need to be prepared for every eventuality, from adverse weather through to unforeseen growth in demand. The best way to do this is to make sure they are using water as effectively as possible.

“By showcasing the latest thinking in the control and measurement of water leakage, the
Summit is a great tool for exchanging ideas on how to provide an abundant supply of high quality, treated water whilst remaining profitable.”

Tim Door will be chairing panel discussions on day two of the event, which will cover topics including smart networks, integrated network management and advanced metering.

Dr Ray Keech, Development Manager – Flow Products for ABB Measurement and Analytics, will also be present on day two, presenting on ABB’s development of the world’s first DNP3 WITS (Water Industry Telemetry Standard) flowmeter.

As well as sponsoring the event, we will also be exhibiting our latest flow measurement technology that can be used to accurately pinpoint water leakage. Products on show at ABB’s stands (stands 14 and 15) will include the WaterMaster and AquaMaster 3 flowmeter with WITS.

The WaterMaster is ABB’s MCERTified, world class flowmeter for water and wastewater applications.

With a wide flow range and unsurpassed accuracy, WaterMaster improves control and quality for applications in water treatment works and now features Profibus communications. A key feature is its revolutionary octagonal internal bore design that reduces sensitivity to flow profile disturbances.

This results in outstanding performance in less than ideal installation conditions, allowing the flowmeters to meet the most stringent internal accuracy standards. Its buriable sensor eliminates the need for expensive meter chambers thereby providing a long, productive and maintenance – free asset life.

The AquaMaster 3 with WITS DNP3 based open protocol offers access to a raft of operational and maintenance data, including advanced diagnostics. Based on tried and tested network technology originally designed for process automation in electrical utility applications, WITS DNP3 enables communication between different types of data acquisition and control equipment.

Using the AquaMaster 3 with WITS, users can now download a high speed, high resolution log to investigate any water network anomalies in conjunction with detection methods such as step testing, burst / pressure transients or nightline monitoring.

Coupled with the AquaMaster 3’s unrivalled accuracy across an extremely wide range, plus a range of power options including wind and solar, the flowmeter provides a powerful tool in the fight against water leakage.

Another highlight will be the Gala Dinner event at the end of the first day of the event. Open to all delegates, the dinner will feature a charity auction on behalf of WaterAid, which works to provide the world’s poorest people with safe domestic water and sanitation and education on hygiene.

As key event on the water industry calendar, the Global Water Leakage Summit has established itself as a highly successful platform for raising awareness of water leakage issues. For more information, including how to register, visit

ABB Water Technology List products offer purchase and installation cost savings

January 28, 2015


We are delighted to reveal that water companies can now reduce the cost of using the latest flowmetering equipment by choosing ABB’s electromagnetic flowmeters from the Water Technology List scheme. Set up over 10 years ago to promote the use of water efficient technology, the scheme allows companies to offset 100 percent of the costs associated with both purchasing and installation in the first year.

As listed products within the scheme, ABB’s WaterMaster, AquaMaster and Aquaprobe flowmeters are all eligible for 100 percent tax relief at the time of purchase. In many cases, this removes the cost argument that has seen many water companies continuing to opt for mechanical flowmeters, despite their many drawbacks compared to electromagnetic devices.

Although electromagnetic flowmeters have been widely embraced by the UK water industry, they have yet to completely replace mechanical meters, which are seen by many to continue to offer a cheaper alternative. This is despite the many inherent drawbacks of mechanical flowmeters, which include deteriorating accuracy from the day they are installed caused by wearing of internal components.

The availability of 100 percent tax relief on both the purchase and installation of ABB’s electromagnetic flowmeters means that companies are able to save money in both the short and long term.

In the short term, there is the possibility of recouping their initial investment against their taxable profits, effectively reducing the upfront cost by allowing the total cost of a project to be offset.

In the long term, further savings stem from the enhanced accuracy arising from using electromagnetic flowmeters, which remains constant throughout their operational life. With no moving parts that can fail, electromagnetic flowmeters require little or no maintenance, offering further cost savings.

Developed by Defra and the Inland Revenue in partnership with EnviroWise, the Water Technology List is aimed at helping businesses save money by encouraging them to invest in technologies and products that reduce water use and improve water quality.

Although the Water Technology List scheme has been around for a long time, we believe that many people are unaware that it applies not only to the products listed but also to the installation itself. With the cost of installation accounting for around 50 percent of a typical project, the ability to write off an investment against tax by using a listed product offers a very significant incentive.

ABB to showcase new technologies at EIC Connect Oil and Gas 2014

October 28, 2014


We are delighted to reveal that we will be demonstrating our extensive offering for oil and gas applications, including our next generation 800xA distributed control system (DCS) and our latest instruments and analysers at the EIC Connect Oil and Gas exhibition. The event takes place at the Manchester Central Convention Complex on the 25th and 26th November 2014.

Since the launch of its first version, around 10,000 ABB 800xA DCS have been installed in over 100 countries, delivering enhanced productivity and control through consolidating process, electrical, safety, and telecoms into one system.

This sixth generation release, commonly called 800xA v6, is not only for new projects but has been specially developed to support upgrades of older DCS running on unsupported platforms such as Microsoft XP operating system. 800xA v6 provides customers with a more secure automation environment that lowers the total cost of ownership, while providing countless opportunities to improve productivity.

Joining the System 800xA will be an extensive array of equipment from ABB’s measurement products portfolio. Products on show will include ABB’s stainless steel wireless pressure transmitter, which opens up new possibilities for measuring pressure in areas that would otherwise be either too costly or too dangerous to install conventional wired devices. This will be exhibited alongside a SIL-rated high pressure version of ABB’s 266 pressure transmitter for applications up to 1050 bar, and a standard safety pressure transmitter approved to IEC61508 and TUV Nord for use in SIL2 applications.

Also on show will be a range of ABB’s heavy duty temperature devices for oil and gas applications, including thermowells, multi-points and surface-mount assemblies for hazardous applications.

Other exhibits will include ABB’s CoriolisMaster range of flowmeters, including the compact FCB330 and 350 models. Requiring zero upstream and downstream pipe lengths, they are highly suited to installations with limited space, opening up a range of new measurement possibilities. Their low pressure drop and wide measurement span also makes them a cost effective alternative compared to similar devices from other manufacturers.

These will be joined by a variety of products from ABB’s Totalflow family, including the NGC8206 natural gas chromatograph and the PGC1000 field-mounted process gas chromatograph. Compact and simple to operate and featuring a field mounted design, the NGC8206 and PGC1000 both enable remote analysis of natural or process gas composition in applications which were previously either too costly or too impractical for conventional gas chromatographs.

Another highlight will be ABB’s EDP300 digital valve positioner. Using an innovative control algorithm taken from the field of robotics, the EDP300 positioner enables fast and accurate valve positioning, whilst using a fraction of the compressed air required by conventional valve positioners.

Visitors will be able to use an interactive app demonstrating ABB’s capabilities across the oil and gas chain. The app consists of a graphical representation of an offshore oil & gas supply chain including a production platform, subsea pipeline and onshore support centre. Using the app, visitors will be able to drill down for more information about ABB’s offering for specific applications, which they can access and then download.

To learn more about ABB’s offering, visit the company’s representatives at stand A7 at EIC Connect Oil and Gas 2014.

What are you doing to combat the signs of ageing?

September 22, 2014

With the UK sector of the North Sea (UKCS) approaching 40 years of oil and gas production, the majority of platforms in the UKCS are beyond their original design life. Operations beyond design life in addition to constant exposure to rain, wind and salty water is imposing asset integrity issues on equipment used in offshore installations. When it comes to measurement instruments, the cumulative impact of this constant exposure to the elements is the increased likelihood of premature ageing and failure.

In its document ‘Managing Ageing and Thorough Reviews of Ageing Installations’, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that: “Ageing is not about how old your equipment is; it’s about what you know about its conditions, and how that’s changing over time.”

The combined accelerated effects of weathering, corrosion, fatigue damage arising from the inherently hostile conditions of an offshore installation, plus any damage from accidental breakage can all impact on the ability of an instrument to provide accurate and reliable measurement. Where such instruments are part of a safety system intended to detect and pinpoint wider failures, such deterioration and damage can be potentially catastrophic.

With the UK offshore industry currently comprised of 108 installations over 25 years old, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is keen to do everything possible to limit the risk of failures caused by ageing.

Through its Key Programme (KP) scheme, the HSE has steadily been taking stock of the condition of the UK’s offshore facilities. Consisting of a thorough inspection into various key aspects of the operation of an offshore facility, each programme lasts three to four years, with a concluding report outlining recommendations for areas for improvement.

The issue of plant and equipment degradation and ageing has been covered by the latest key programme, KP4. Commencing in July 2010 and running until December 2013, the programme sought to promote awareness of the risks surrounding ageing plant and life extension, and to put in place basic best practice requirements relating to asset integrity, competence, safety culture and leadership with a view to minimising the failure and /or loss of an installation.

In terms of electrical control and instrumentation (EC&I), KP4 was specifically concerned with safety critical elements, including:

• Electrical equipment in hazardous areas and external electrical equipment which is not isolated in the event of gas detection

• Safety critical instrumented systems covering fire and gas (F&G), emergency shutdown (ESD) and high integrity pressure protection (HIPPS)

• Well control instruments & control systems

With many of the instruments in an offshore safety system having no explicit design life or means by which their design life can be determined, the onus falls on operators to regularly inspect their installed devices. Under the programme, all inspections needed to be documented, with details kept on dates of inspection, plus information on any signs of ageing detected and how they will be addressed. If necessary, the findings from an inspection will also need to be used to modify the frequency of monitoring, with more frequent inspections needing to be carried out where ageing is identified as an issue.

Equally, operators also need to take into account the issue of obsolescence and / or the likelihood of suppliers ceasing to support a particular product or products.

Although the KP4 programme itself might now be old news, having ended in December 2013, its findings and consequent recommendations themselves are unlikely to get old, having an on-going impact on the way that operators manage the signs of ageing on their offshore assets. Furthermore, developments in technology are presenting new possibilities for keeping instruments in good working order. Developments in wirelessHART technology, for example, mean that a wealth of hitherto unobtainable diagnostic data can now be extracted from instruments in even the hardest to reach parts of a facility.

ABB’s product offering for oil and gas applications is backed up by extensive expertise in inspection, specialist functional engineering, integrity management, operations improvement, process safety, projects services, technical software and the provision of technical training.

For more information, email ref. ‘Ageing assets’.

New guide helps to simplify pressure transmitter selection

April 9, 2014


Find out how to select the right pressure transmitter for your application with our latest ‘How To’ guide. Titled ‘How to select the right pressure transmitter for your application’, the seven page guide covers the key factors to consider when selecting pressure transmitters and ancillary equipment.

Written by our very own pressure measurement experts, the guide highlights the differences between transducers and transmitters and outlines the sorts of application to which each type of device is best suited. The guide then moves on to providing advice as to how to go about selecting equipment whereby extreme temperature, humidity and vibration conditions are of concern.

The guide also looks at the different types of transmitters available, each of which use different techniques to transmit a signal, explains the difference between two-wire, digital and wireless data transmission and advises as to how to choose the best device for a given application.

In addition, the guide provides information on how to match the right device with the right level of protection against the characteristics of different types of hazardous areas. This is accompanied by a breakdown of the different cabling and cable gland options available for hazardous environments and how to choose between them.

The new guide concludes with a look at the benefits of using multivariable transmitters in applications involving the measurement of gases or fluids subject to rapid density changes.

To receive a copy of the new guide, simply email:, ref. ‘Pressure Guide’.

Why it pays to pay more for safety (Part 1)

February 10, 2014

Quite apart from any moral considerations, skimping on safety can be an expensive mistake. The right safety instrumentation can deliver long-term security and a lower life-time cost.

If the Buncefield and Deepwater Horizon disasters prove anything, it’s that safety can never be taken for granted. Aside from the devastation they caused to their surrounding environments, both disasters also resulted in multi-million dollar damages for the operators involved.

While most industrial safety breaches have less spectacular and expensive consequences, they are sadly all too common. The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted 973 offences in 2013 and achieved 849 convictions. The firms in question collectively received fines of £12.9 million, equating to an average fine of £15,153.

When it comes to safety, fines are just one aspect of the costs of getting it wrong. Material damage, personal injury claims and the damage to a company’s reputation and subsequent sales can all send the price of poor safety sky high.

With companies facing considerable pressure to cut costs in every possible area, even areas as critical as safety find themselves subject to tightening budgets. Moreover, as the standards currently accepted as good practice are not actually legal requirements, there is an obvious temptation to skimp on safety systems. As can be seen from the potential consequences of failure mentioned above though, this is unlikely to prove a cost-effective strategy in the long run.

Higher standards

When it comes to specialised instrumentation and control equipment for safety applications, it’s true to say that you get what you pay for.

Compared to a normal process control loop that is operating most of the time, a safety system will typically kick in only when there is a problem. This sporadic operation means it’s quite possible for a transmitter or other component within the safety loop to malfunction without being detected. However, if it fails when needed then the consequences can be dire.

Making sure a safety system doesn’t fail demands good quality equipment that has been extensively tested and analysed. It may also mean building in a level of redundancy and a self-diagnostic capability far outstripping that required for non-critical systems. All this pushes up the price.

The second point is that safety is a niche application. A refinery might easily have 900 control loops distributed around the site but fewer than 100 safety loops. This more specialised market for safety equipment simply doesn’t benefit from the same economies of scale as the mass-market in standard controls.

Lifetime savings

Rather than looking for the cheapest option, it’s important to look for instruments and systems offering the optimum combination of security and cost-effectiveness over their lifetime. It’s a complex area, and users hoping to find the best solution can benefit from getting to grips with some of the terminology surrounding safety.

In our next blog, we’ll explain the parameters that define the overall effectiveness of a safety loop and will show why opting for higher integrity equipment can save money in the long term. Look out for it this time next week. If you can’t wait that long, then please email for the full article, ref. ‘The price of safety’.