From gimmicks to real solutions

The aim of Symphony Plus is not just to define great plant performance; its features are designed to help users to achieve one.

Recently I purchased a smart phone. Apart from its good look, normal call and messaging functions, it has a large touch screen, it manages my calendar and provides a nice browser.  More than what I really need. On one of my overseas trips, I noticed that my phone screen had automatically changed. It showed source and destination time and apps like the airport I had landed and the airline I had flown by. For a normal phone user like me, it was a WOW experience. As I used it more and more, I could really explore a lot of features which made me fall in love with the device. As a proud owner of this new, intelligent gadget, I shared my experience with a colleague. He listened patiently but did not react the way I expected he would. He already had the same experience but with a different handset. Reason was simple – both devices were running the same application.

Ten years back we used to get excited with every launch of a new mobile phone device which just would be a better hardware.  Today, it’s the same about apps.

When I relate this to power plant environment, same applies to control systems. The era has passed where controller speed, bits in A/D conversion, memory sizes and other hardware features made any difference. Better hardware is not necessarily the only driver. As an example, even though controllers are built to handle 5000 field signals, the process distribution still restricts the usage to only thousand. Controllers effectively delivered loop response time of 100-250 ms even with 132 MHz processors and today 450 Mhz processors deliver the same. Individual isolation is no different from group isolation since source of power and source of ground remains same. I find these high-end numbers like 450, 512, 5000 and 1 Giga almost gimmicky.

Process requirements no longer put additional demand on control system hardware. With the revolution in electronics and IT, control system technology has advanced leaps & bounds; however, the process it is intended to control has not changed that much.

The question is: If all roads lead to Rome, how important is the choice of road?

It is indeed important if the right priorities are considered. Today, the priority is to have a pleasant, informative and interesting journey because it will be fast and safe anyway.

ABB’s Symphony Plus total plant automation platform especially designed for power and water application provides such a journey experience. It is loaded with several  apps an operator, a maintenance engineer, a supervisor, a plant manager and a plant owner need.

The aim of Symphony Plus is not just to define great plant performance; its features are designed to help users to achieve one. These include:

  • Simplified design and flexible architecture
  • Embedded intellectual know-how
  • Single control & IO platform
  • Effective operation and alarm management
  • Maintenance with unified engineering workbench
  • Improved visibility through comprehensive electrical and device integration
  • Inherent system security for plant integrity and confidentiality
  • Transformation of data into actionable business decision
  • Protection to capital and intellectual investments through seamless lifecycle management

Symphony Plus departs from the “number” gimmicks many DCS users have came to experience and delivers ‘real solutions that power plant operators need.

View on YouTubeSymphony Plus – the power of a well orchestrated performance


Image credit: Yutaka Tsutano via creative commons on Flickr

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About the author

Ikshvakoo Vaid

I am responsible for business development and sales of automation solutions to power generation customers in South Asia. The technologies are becoming more interactive and so are we. While we start our interaction now, Symphony Plus is interacting with its users every second.
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