Automation that makes the difference - from plant-level control algorithms to production management; from the early stages of engineering throughout the life cycle of the plant
Defining the scope of the program strictly according to its name, control and optimization, does not do justice to the full potential of the terms if interpreted more broadly.
- Control: Manipulate a set of input variables in such a way that the controlled system produces the desired output (set points, reference variables).
- Optimization: Minimize or maximize a function by systematically choosing the values of variables from within an allowed set.
Both terms include one generic concept: Information retrieved from a plant is used to carry out some modifications to improve its performance, ie, "closing the loop" on plant information in general.
Depending on the timing, the scope, or the type of the activity, and on the type of information used, closing the loop may mean different things in a plant.
Control algorithms directly influencing a plant with the fastest loop cycles are investigated to be used within ABB products, as well as in the form of control solutions for the industries served by ABB's system units. General production management topics are also addressed, applying similar algorithms but with slower cycle times, more observed variables and optimized set points. In addition, energy optimization solutions, advanced scheduling problems and production optimization issues facing ABB, as well as ABB's customers, also are a focus of this research area.
The mathematical algorithms used for control and optimization can also be applied to monitoring and diagnostics. In such cases, the concept of closing the loop can also be interpreted more broadly, where the asset health or plant performance parameters are used to maintain the plant at an optimal level, or to repair some of the equipment. Plant life cycle optimization is thus one research area in the program that also supports ABB's service business.
Another area in which large amounts of information are processed and turned into valuable knowledge is engineering. Engineering processes and tools are the focus of the research area that investigates integrated engineering.