A year of inspiring ABB Conversations

Launched this time last year, Australia’s ABB Conversations platform continues to celebrate how we adapt to unprecedented challenges by applying technology and diverse thinking.

Challenges abound in this 21st century: how to radically improve health care, transition energy systems, enable efficiencies in essential resource extraction and processing, decarbonise transportation and industry, secure food and water supplies for growing populations, effectively dispose of and recycle waste to enable a circular economy… With problem solving in its DNA, ABB is well positioned to contribute to every realm of endeavour.

Here we look back on a year of inspiring stories as told by ABB’s talented subject-matter specialists and team leaders. Our very first Australian story, published in 2020, described how virtual collaboration of an expert international team marked a spectacular turning point in Australia’s energy transition…

Hazelwood Decommissioning
  • Decommissioning Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria was a long time in the planning, a massive project engineered for safety and efficiency by ABB. Rigorous risk mitigation could not however, detract from the symbolic moment that brought down Hazelwood’s eight magnificent, but no longer safe, chimneys — fossil fuels are retiring to make way for cleaner power sources.
  • Predictive maintenance enabled by digital monitoring of equipment has so far proved an incredible efficiency booster to extraction of resources from oil and gas to copper and gold. And innovations such as ABB Ability Remote Insights can provide invaluable global assistance in diagnosing equipment failures or deviations from optimal operation, when technicians can’t travel to site. Now digital orchestration of entire complex operations, such as mines, is the new game changer: look forward to reduced capital costs, seamless coordination of people and assets for great leaps in productivity, reduced emissions, and decision making informed by true operational oversight.
  • Hydrogen has reached a tipping point on the road to commercialisation that will soon see industrial processes powered by renewably sourced H2. ABB technologies are poised to propel Australia to centre stage as an exporter of cheap, green, high-density energy.
  • Automation is dangling the prospect for Australia to rediscover its innovative manufacturing capability, this time producing clean, green and competitive products (when manufacturing is powered by the country’s abundant renewable resources) for carbon-conscious international markets. ABB robots informed by artificial intelligence are already transforming food and pharmaceutical production and packing. The emerging potential is for new tech such as EV batteries, and even future smart vehicles themselves, to be cost-effectively turned out en masse. Australian integrators are tooling and programming robotic arms to flexibly apply 3D printing to a range of surfaces at speed; cobots will provide the muscle, and repeatable consistency to help skilled humans achieve more. The opportunities are, literally, endless.
  • In October last year, Rockingham in Perth became one of the first precincts in Australia committed to winning the war on waste by turning it into energy. Its specialised plant incinerates unrecyclables, creating hot gas, which is used to make steam to power turbines that will in turn help power the city. An essential piece of peace-of-mind kit is the plant’s ABB ACF5000 Analyzers used to constantly monitor emissions.
  • Health care is getting smarter and more automated, freeing staff to spend more time with patients. At the new Calvary Adelaide Hospital, myriad lighting options are controlled by ABB’s i-bus KNX platform. Hospital illumination requirements range from life-saving, vivid visibility in operating theatres, to soothing mood lighting in recovery rooms, and every intensity in between. Complex facilities such as this major private hospital can use easily programmable lighting systems to save up to 60% on energy bills while taking pressure off staff, and getting the light just right.
Newmont’s Tanami Gold Mine
  • Electrification of mining operations currently fueled by diesel has numerous benefits, such as reducing operational costs, improving the working environment of miners by eliminating fumes, and reducing the carbon footprint of some of Australia’s most substantial export industries. Newmont’s Tanami Gold Mine recently went deeper via ABB electric hoist, to massively increase its extraction of the shiny stuff and extend the productive life of the operation from previously anticipated 2027 out to 2040.
  • If electrifying industry and delivering its energy needs from renewables is one way to substantially reduce Australia’s emissions, an equally promising strategy is to minimise energy use in buildings and homes — making them smarter, more comfortable, more targeted in providing energy only where it’s of benefit at any given moment. ABB building management systems are famed for their open protocols, which allow integration with a vast variety of equipment and devices. By coordinating their operation with human use patterns identified by room sensors and circuit monitoring, we can reduce the load that urban centres place on the environment — cities are responsible for some 70% of global carbon dioxide emissions — and reduce the energy costs of homes and businesses.

These and other features from our first year of powerful storytelling showcase ABB Conversations as the site of solutions. Be sure to subscribe to ABB Conversations for a regular dose of engineering envy (“Why didn’t I think of that?”), thrilling technical twists, and insights into the future of life and work.

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About the author

Aurora Sassone

Marketing and communications manager at ABB. Driven by curiosity, Aurora Sassone is passionate about digging into complex subject matter and telling meaningful stories. From start-ups to multi-national brands Aurora has driven and executed integrated communications and marketing strategies that deliver tangible business growth. Industry knowledge spans infrastructure, renewables, energy, mining, telecom and mobile, healthcare, food and beverage and technology sectors.
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