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April 30, 2008

Headlines from Today's Activities
- Panel Seeks Ways to Attract and Retain Workforce
- Common Platform Facilitates Instrumentation Innovation
- ABB CEO Outlines Essential Global Challenges
- How to Get Started in Asset Performance Management
- Of Plugging, Poisoning and Pumping: A pH Primer
- Phosphate Analysis Added to Navigator Lineup

Panel Seeks Ways to Attract and Retain Workforce
Much like the U.S. Marines, technical industries and companies worldwide are seeking a few good people—no, make that a lot of good people.

To help end users and suppliers deal with increasingly scarce engineers and technical professionals worldwide, a five-member panel explored related problems and possible solutions on the second day of 2008 ABB Automation World 2008 this week in Houston. The session was entitled, “Crafting Business Strategy to Address the Problem of Demand Exceeding Supply for Human Capital.”

Leading off the discussion, John Thuestad, president of Alcoa’s primary products division, reported that his biggest challenge is renewing his workforce at all levels. “Sure, we mine bauxite, and it’s a smoky, dusty process,” said Thuestad.

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“Now there’s a lot of capital being invested, but there’s still a lack of people.” Dow’s Margaret Walker and other panelists discussed ways to address the global scarcity of engineering and technical talent.


Common Platform Facilitates Instrumentation Innovation
“If you can use a cell phone, you can configure our transmitters,” said Sean Keeping, ABB vice president of technology for instrumentation, in reviewing the company’s roadmap for instrumentation development for the coming year and into the future. Ease of use is key for end users, Keeping said, and standardization on a single, scaleable platform is central to streamlining the company’s development efforts. “We now have a common technology platform—it’s not cosmetic, but a fundamental commonality,” Keeping said.

In fact, the electronics platform consists of four different form factors, depending on the complexity and functionality required: a two-wire transmitter platform for relatively simple measurement devices; a two-wire “plus” platform for more complex loop-powered devices; a four-wire platform (for magmeters or Coriolis flowmeters, for example); and an advanced platform with a more full-featured HMI. Each platform has common navigation and a common look and feel, added Pat Cashwell, ABB vice president of field instrumentation. “The key point is to make it easy. We don’t have those super-techs anymore,” he said.

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“We now have a family of interfaces, all with the same flavor.” ABB’s Pat Cashwell discussed how the company’s scaleable instrumentation platform is both easier for end users and streamlines development of new measurement devices.


ABB CEO Outlines Essential Global Challenges
In one succinct presentation, Michel Demaré, CEO and CFO of ABB, outlined many of the world’s outstanding industrial issues in his “New Challenges for Industrial Companies in the 21st Century” presentation today at ABB Automation World 2008 in Houston.

Demaré reported that the primary, interrelated, external challenges for industrial companies are globalization, resources supply and the environment:

- Globalization involves how to compete globally; how to address new players and regional training blocks; and how to develop new products for these emerging regions. As a result, ABB is supporting globalization with a balanced, non-colonial approach, Demaré said.

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“We’re also creating a corporate vision and culture where sustainability is central.” ABB CEO Michel Demaré on how his company is addressing the challenges of today’s global economy.


How to Get Started in Asset Performance Management
One fundamental key to business growth for industrial companies is improving asset performance as measured by duration of operation and uptime. The problem is that there typically are many different systems of instruments and controls and rotating machinery in a plant, and there are corresponding and disparate existing methods to manage assets.

ABB's Asset Master is a software solution, first introduced in 2007, that helps its customers meet the need to incorporate these disparate systems into a single solution, while providing traditional set-up tools for instrumentation configuration and calibration.

Eric Olson, ABB product manager responsible for Asset Master, explains: "Asset Master is the first desktop device management and optimization solution that reduces the complexity of these solutions from larger control systems into a compact, easy-to-comprehend interface.”

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“Our customers can now enjoy control-system-class device management and optimization benefits in a small package.” ABB’s Eric Olson demonstrates the company’s Asset Master software, an easy way to get started in asset management.


Of Plugging, Poisoning and Pumping: A pH Primer
Hydrogen ion concentration in aqueous solutions, or pH for short, is one of the most difficult of process measurements, but it is also one of the most important parameters to measure and control. “Because pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, relatively large amounts of chemicals are needed to adjust pH up and down the scale,” explained Christopher Roderick, OEM accounts manager for the instrumentation division of ABB.

For example, if one unit of acid is needed to reduce pH from 7 to 6, then 10 units will be required to reduce pH from 6 to 5. The best way to minimize chemical additions is to measure pH continuously and make adjustments as needed to control the setpoint near its desired value.

“Controlling pH to setpoint not only minimizes required chemical additives, but it also results in better plant operations because various plant processes run more efficiently when maintained at correct pH levels,” explained Roderick.

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“Selecting the right pH measurement solution can improve plant productivity, cut chemical costs and reduce required maintenance.” ABB’s Christopher Roderick discussed the do’s and don’ts of industrial pH measurement.


Phosphate Analysis Added to Navigator Lineup
On display at ABB Automation World this week in Houston is a follow-on to the company’s successful Navigator 600 silica analyzer product line: the new Navigator 600 phosphate analyzer. The analyzer provides accurate monitoring of a wide range of phosphate concentrations from 0-15 parts per million PO4 (0-5 ppm P) with a minimum range of 0-1 ppm PO4 (0-0.33 ppm P). The analyzer is available in single- or multistream configurations, enabling up to six process streams to be monitored sequentially. Chief markets for the instrument are expected to be the power generation industry and other large-scale steam- and water-dependent industrial applications where equilibrium phosphate treatment (EPT) or congruent phosphate treatment is used in conjunction with active pH measurement and treatment. EPT is a widely used water treatment method to reduce corrosion in high-pressure steam boiler tubes.

Overfeeding of trisodium phosphate can lead to excess corrosion or boiler-tube failure, so it is critical to monitor this parameter, but previous analyzer generations have had issues with cost, complexity and maintenance.

» Read more

ABB’s new Navigator 600 phosphate analyzer can measure up to six different process streams. Its compact design dramatically reduces reagent use as well.

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