ABB on the pillars for stronger digitalization platforms
To help companies navigate the complex landscape and pursue programs that drive value, ABB has developed a digitalization roadmap that is based on five areas, or “pillars of value”.
ABB aims to leverage these pillars alongside its strengths as a provider of physical and digital solutions – the company works closely with everything from mining robots and cart support systems to AI and augmented reality. ABB’s vision is that automation, digitalization and electrification must go hand in hand for true digital transformation and uphold the values of sustainable and efficient mining operations.
The company said it chose the five solution areas – sustainability, asset performance (AI/ML), process performance, operational excellence and connected workforce – because together they can be used to provide demonstrable evidence that digital transformation strategies are working.
There is also a horizontal layer, which is cybersecurity and is essential for all five pillars. For ABB this is an important area of focus, but it is something the company expects to be there as a standard.
Sanjit Shewale, Vice President and Global Head of Digital, Process Industries at ABB, explained that while the five areas are based on both long-standing customer needs and the solutions and domain expertise of company, they also reflect massive changes in mining in recent years. .
“If you look at process performance and operational excellence, these are not new concepts, but asset performance management has become much stronger thanks to artificial intelligence, machine learning and data. other advancements that have evolved significantly over the past 20 years. There were asset management solutions 30 years ago, but they can’t compare to today – with predictive analytics to improve reliability and availability,” he said.
Sustainability and success
Shewale explained that sustainability was not chosen just for obvious reasons, such as energy and emissions management or water management.
“In our industry, retirements are a serious issue in terms of sustainability. How can we transfer the knowledge of people who have been in the industry for 20 or 30 years to Gen Z or Millennials?
“We need to be able to accelerate their learning, because it all translates into operating equipment safety and learning key processes.”
Another important concept of digitization is to promote greater collaboration between different areas of the value chain. The pillars of value must all be connected to maximize the benefits of the plant.
For example, predictive maintenance has a strong link with the pillar of sustainability and production. A reliability engineer, who must work closely with the production manager, may sometimes be faced with a decision that involves operating equipment near a failure curve, even though this may result in higher energy consumption. .
In the end, for holistic optimization of the value chain, digital must serve as the basis for collaborative work, instead of an old siled mode of operation.
Marcos Hillal, global product line manager for automation and digital at ABB, added that integration was a key part of advancing digitalization.
“With data, it’s critical to remember that if we can’t measure, we can’t control. Advanced algorithms can’t make the right predictions if the groundwork isn’t right.”
“For a complex and large project like cost reduction, we can dig into millions of data points, but it still needs to be properly processed, ingested, and managed to extract the right value from operations.”
“Most of the time spent in data-driven projects is always about properly preparing the data, cleaning up the outliers. That’s a big hurdle, and mining is no different.
“The correct use of technology coupled with the right domain expertise, these are the crucial factors to enable data integration and the five pillars of value.
Nuanced and streamlined data integration then enables digitization to deliver more value by ABB on the pillars of stronger digitization platforms, thus avoiding downtime for increasingly complex and costly assets. ‘today.
“As in other industries, there are many existing or legacy solutions in mining,” Shewale said. “Most of them have asset data, whether it comes from enterprise management systems or new ‘Internet of Things’ sensors.
“Even discarding the newer connected assets, we can now import data from anywhere, from any asset and, most importantly, take a platform-based approach and use a standard interface. Importantly, it allows us to get the data in a common Region.”
Once this data is in a common area, asset models can be created.
“In mining, we have unique assets and unique processes, which we can help define the asset models and algorithms. As we develop these, we’ll start to see more predictive maintenance and prescriptive analytics applied to industry.
“If I go back 10 years, it was still disparate systems. We couldn’t integrate assets into a common platform. Now with the added power of leveraging cloud or edge analytics , that changes everything.
“What’s most important is that it’s not about doing predictive maintenance just on one asset or process area, there are many assets in the production value chain, and having a holistic and integrated approach is what will bring the value of digitization.”
An important tool the company uses as part of its transformation program is its digital maturity assessment. This online tool uses surveys and on-site interviews to assess a client’s existing practices, including their digital and IT/OT capabilities.
The tool provides a report showing where the company is on the digital transformation journey with respect to industry best practices and strategy.
Hillal said the tool is essential because it helps miners know that their digital transformation “definitely won’t happen overnight.”
It really is a “journey” and it’s not an easy journey to take, especially when it comes to brownfields. You may need to change the way you operate the plant, and sometimes it takes years to achieve. The first aspect we need to take care of is understanding the digital transformation goals of the business.
“At ABB, we have developed a structured approach to digital transformation. It starts with creating, together with the customer, the end goals of the program. We need to understand where the gaps are, the critical points of operations and prioritize the plan. Towards the beginning, we have to define quick wins.”
This incremental, structured and layered process is essential for developing internal readiness to start digital transformation, especially in the area of change management.
“When people started talking about digitization in 2014, all companies thought ‘yes, let’s do this,'” Shewale said. “So they built digital teams, hired CTOs (chief technology officers), and it was considered a project.
“But the thing is, it’s continuous. It’s a constant digital journey. It’s always evolving.
“With change management, it’s good to start with the initial things, because each client has different requirements. What is their fruit at hand? What do they start with who are small, because that’s the thing more important?
“The biggest mistake you can make is to embark on the initial phase of a very complicated digital transformation plan and then the project fails – businesses can lose over a year if this happens.
“For change management, it’s far better to take small steps and get quick wins to show use cases. Once you’re able to do that, change management becomes a bit easier, because people recognize that it is something valuable.
“There has to be a vision that is clearly communicated to the whole company; if someone is put in a role that tries to be an evangelist, it’s extremely difficult. Unless the whole organization agree, you will never get good change management”.
To learn more, read ABB’s handbook for large-scale digitization: https://campaign.abb.com/mining-automation-ebook-2