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ABB Motion Business Event sets the tone for a fresh approach to digitalisation

Digitalisation can be incorporated at various levels in a system; and using it for condition-monitoring in assets can be a start, ABB says

| | May 1, 2019 | 2:43 pm
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Dubai, UAE, 28 April 2019: The possibility of applying digitalisation at various levels was a key point that was articulated during the ABB Motion Business Event, on April 24 in Dubai. Organised on behalf of ABB by CPI Industry Bespoke Events, the event was an opportunity to elaborate on how digitalisation could be used in conditioning monitoring of assets, to start with. Aki Maenpaa, VP Service Manager, UAE, Gulf, and Near East, ABB, said, “We see new technology entering the market.” The availability of new technology, he said, has enabled machine-learning, thus reducing the overall cost to technology. When we speak of technology, he said, the first thing that comes to mind is how we can monitor our assets, which brings us to the concept of digitalisation. Though digitalisation and its application can differ from one company to another, it can be used to conduct a predictive analysis of a system, he said.

Aki Maenpaa

Speaking of a recent move, Maenpaa said that recently, ABB partnered with Microsoft which, he said, will be a game-changer to the scope of digitalisation in HVAC. “We have combined the company’s knowledge of electrical equipment with that of Microsoft’s IT capabilities,” he said. The move, he added, has helped ABB develop additional and next-level digital solutions, which will enable a person to collect data and send it to the cloud, after which it can be accessed for further use.

Maenpaa said that the partnership with Microsoft has been instrumental in creating the ABB Ability platform, which he described as a unified, cross-industry digital offering that extends from devices-to-edge-to-cloud. The platform, he said, covers a wide range of areas — home-automation to energy-storage, and an advanced electrical distribution system.

Elaborating on a few additional efforts towards digitalisation, Maenpaa highlighted that the company provides platforms for system integrators with the opportunity to create their own digitalised solutions, which can be combined with ready-made applications. In addition to digitalisation, he said, we are witnessing the onset of Industry 4.0, the name given to the trend of automation and data exchange within the scope of manufacturing. The name of the game is all about the need to combine data from a BMS or an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, which can be used to optimise manpower and bring about predictive maintenance.

Frank Taaning Grundholm

Another aspect that came up for discussion at the event was related to EC (electronically commutated) motors in the context of energy efficiency. Frank Taaning Grundholm, Vice President, Global HVACR Sales, ABB Motion, highlighted a rise in the use of EC motors with respect to the air-side market of the industry. He said that EC motors can be randomly used for any kind of solution.

By way of defining the technology, he said, “An EC motor is originally an electronically commutated motor drive, integrated inside the rotor.” In addition to the EC motor, he said, we have the Integrated motor drive (IMD), which has traditional components and is mounted onto the motor. The fan or pump package unit is the combination of mechanics, the motor drive and the drive, Grundholm said. A challenge when using EC fan technology, he said, is with reference to wire-to-air efficiency. Elaborating, he said, if you put a piece of metal inside a fan wheel, you are likely to see pressure drop, and any pressure drop that does not benefit the system is a concern from an energy-efficiency point of view and must be avoided.

In addition, today, Grundholm said, there is an increasing need to look at the specifications of a product as per a building’s load profile. “Buildings are specified at the full-load efficiency point,” he said, “while the difference between various technical solutions is much bigger at part-load, which is where buildings operate 99% of the time.” What’s essential, he said, is that we get as close to the required profile, which is also realistic. He said that today, the strong call for energy efficiency and sustainable technology has made it essential to specify needs and not just a solution. There is a need to look into the specifications of a product, and only if you have the right specifications can the manufacturer come back and deliver on a requirement with the right product and the right solution, he said.

Pavan Dwarakanath

Pavan Dwarakanath, Product Marketing Manager, High Power Drives, ABB, echoed Grundholm with reference to the increasing demand for energy efficiency. He pointed to the need for HVAC systems to be maintained properly. “Today,” he said, “there is a direct link between poor IAQ and badly managed HVAC systems. The role of HVAC systems is essential, because we spend an estimated 90% of our time inside buildings. Studies show that there is a direct link between the ventilation rate and a communicable respiratory disease within the atmosphere, he said. Proper investments in HVAC systems, he said, not only pays back with energy savings but also with a healthier and a more productive environment. Buildings today, he said, are responsible for 40% of the total energy consumption and 36% of the total CO2 emissions. Roughly, he said, 10-20% of the total end-use energy goes to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Pumps, fans and compressors, he said, are often considered simple applications, but they are mission-critical to the process.

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