ABB Automation and Power World 2012

April 25, 2012
ABB held its annual Automation and Power World conference April 23-26 in Houston attracting a record attendance of over 5,000.

ABB's ( anticipated soon closing of the acquisition of Thomas & Betts is expected to expand the company's distribution channel in the United States. The focus of the systems group was on improving operator control rooms along with improved tools for collaboration among the various departments of a plant.

The company announced several new products. Here are summaries of some of interest to Automation World readers.

Control room design process. It has developed a new control room design processa together with Swedish design firm CGM, that achieves increased operational effectiveness through collaboration between people, systems and hardware. The design is said to be the first to bring the promise of CPAS (Collaborative Process Automation Systems) to the marketplace.

“It takes more than just consoles and screens to achieve the goals of collaborative process automation” said Mike Heatherman, group vice president, Americas Region BU Manager Process Automation Control Technologies. “You need to combine all elements (people, systems and hardware) into a single interface using standard tools. Imagine being able to see the entire picture before you make a decision that could drastically affect your operation. Being able to solve real-time issues before they become problems allows operators to respond more quickly, efficiently and effectively. That is true collaborative process automation.”

In addition to the Automation Arena featured at APW, ABB is installing four new customer experience centers globally to enable customers to see the full collaborative process automation environment in action. The centers are planned for Abu Dhabi, Houston, Singapore, and Zurich. The Abu Dhabi center will be the first to open in spring of 2012. The Houston center opening is scheduled for summer 2012.

Robotics. The PalletPack 460, a pre-engineered package of proven robotic palletizing components featuring the new IRB 460 robot designed specifically for high-speed end-of-line palletizing. The packaged configuration offers integrated hardware with full documentation, reducing overall project costs and engineering set-up time. It will allow integrators to more easily specify and design palletizing systems, and reduce the barriers for end-users to realize the benefits of robotic palletizing automation.

Soft Starter. ABB has released the new PSE softstarter family, said to be the first compact softstarter with two-phase torque control. Additional features include built-in class selectable electronic overload, built-in bypass and a LCD display. It is ideal for any application where space is limited but advanced functionality is required. The PSE features an efficient, compact design, and is suitable for all common applications including centrifugal pumps, fans, blowers, chillers, compressors and conveyor belts.

Coriolis Mass Flowmeter. The CoriolisMaster FCB330 and FCB350 compact Coriolis mass flowmeters for measuring gases and liquids. The FCB330 and FCB350 are the new part of the CoriolisMaster family of direct mass flow measurement products and provide accurate measurements of multiple variables with a single, compact device: flow (mass and volume, with accuracies to 0.1%), density, concentration, and temperature. The new double tube design has no moving parts and requires no up- or downstream piping, saving more than 40% in length and meter volume. This minimizes maintenance and installation space, and allows retrofitting of older flowmeters in tight places where Coriolis meters couldn’t be used in the past. The design also uses wider inner tube diameters, producing lower pressure drops and higher capacities. This saves up to 25% pump power, making the new mass flowmeter the better alternative to mechanical meters and their requisite filters that can cause pressure drops and blocked pipes.

Drives. The ACS 2000, ABB’s active front end drive for general purpose applications, is now available with higher power capabilities, up to 2000 HP. Developed with the latest drive technologies, The ACS 2000 is ideal for general purpose applications where a medium voltage installation is required, such as pumps, fans, blowers and conveyors. Users across many industries, including water, wastewater, power, cement, mining and HVAC, can all derive significant energy savings as well as more reliable process control while benefiting from the drive’s compact, lightweight design.


Prior to the conference, ABB announced that its has named Prith Banerjee to its Executive Committee in the role of Chief Technology Officer. Banerjee, 51, will start midyear 2012 and will be based in Zurich.

Banerjee joins ABB from Hewlett Packard, where he was senior vice president of research and director of HP Labs. Prior to that, Banerjee was professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as well as dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He succeeds Peter Terwiesch, who became head of ABB in Germany, and manager of ABB’s Central Europe region in July 2011.

“Prith is a creative and entrepreneurial researcher and executive with a wealth of experience in the business and academic worlds,” said Joe Hogan, ABB’s chief executive officer. “He is well placed to help ABB build on its heritage of technology innovation and leadership.” 

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