ABB’s Adaptive Execution Takes a Leaf from Nature’s Book

Jan. 19, 2021
The company’s latest offering can reduce automation capital expenditures by up to 40%.

The concept of biomimicry is fascinating. Nature, after all, has solved so many sophisticated problems. So, it makes perfect sense to look to nature for inspiration when solving man-made engineering or ecosystem problems.

That’s exactly the approach ABB took with its recently announced ABB Adaptive Execution offering. Designed for large capital projects in the energy sector that often exceed budget and experience extensive delays, Adaptive Execution is based on digitalization and collaboration at its core and is expected to reduce automation related capital expenditures by up to 40%, compress delivery schedules by as much as 30%, and lower start-up hours by 40%, according to the company. 

For an example of how nature effectively executes a job with precision, agility, and efficiency, just take a look at a pod of dolphins. Dolphins work as a synchronized team to create value without wasting time or energy. When feeding, dolphins will swim together and hunt in groups, working together to encircle a school of fish and taking turns feeding.

Similarly, ABB is focusing on effectiveness by standardizing on processes, using application libraries, and cutting edge engineering tools to eliminate or automate repetitive steps in order to solve complex tasks. Many large projects have multiple teams spread across the globe. All of this needs to be organized and synchronized in one location. Much like a pod of dolphins will herd fish into a small space to effectively feed, ABB’s E-Base engineer tool is designed to handle and manage data coming from multiple sources, organizing it all into one space and connecting a set of standard hardware templates and software libraries to build control applications. The engineering platform can also regenerate deliverables if there are any changes in design or project scope, allowing the system to adapt to new parameters.

When it comes to efficiency, look no further than a hive of honey bees which mobilize each other to do more work in less time while operating in a strong and reliable infrastructure. In an automation lifecycle, the elimination of customization and the use of simulation can deliver a similar effect. Using a digital twin of control systems, ABB Adaptive Execution can continuously test and build simulated control units and combine that with process and electrical areas to create a plant control system that efficiently works together.

With this, virtual commissioning can be applied to streamline installations. Using virtualization, Adaptive Execution removes the need for engineering on site and reduces the physical hardware required for a control and automation system. According to ABB, by decoupling hardware and software, Adaptive Execution lowers the time and overall setup costs, cutting the number of engineering hours spent on project installation, commissioning, and testing by up to 85%.

When it comes to collaboration, ant colonies are organized in a way that each ant performs its own special role so that the entire colony thrives. To that end, with a modular design combined with standardized, repeatable processes, and shared deployment of infrastructure, tools, and resources, the ABB Adaptive Execution approach centralizes collaboration across all project stakeholders — from a project’s inception through to its successful completion.

“Adaptive Execution will change the way in which customers, engineering procurement construction contractors, and vendors interact,” said Brandon Spencer, president of ABB Energy Industries. “We can create better business value for our customers by creating an environment where everyone can do his or her own part with confidence, empowering delivery teams to achieve more, in less time. This is the key to overall project success.”

Given the past year, it is clear that all manufacturers are working in high-pressure environments that require agility and flexibility. Beyond survival of the fittest, this new normal requires what ABB calls a “survival of the smartest” as the industry continues its evolution.

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