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ABB’s Digital Solutions Centre to drive southern Africa’s digital transformation

ABB Digital Solutions Centre augmented reality enabling remote support. (Image source: ABB)

ABB unveiled its new South African digital solutions centre, which aims to help companies across industries to overcome technology and digitalisation challenges

The centre, at ABB’s Longmeadow facility in Johannesburg, allows customers in the energy, mining and minerals resources, manufacturing, process industries, transportation and utility sectors the opportunity to co-develop solutions that take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalisation to unlock lasting business value.

John Manuell, local division manager for process industries, ABB South Africa, said, “The new centre is the only one of its kind in Africa and represents a significant commitment to South Africa and the wider region as growth markets and an important customer base.” He also added that most industries and sectors are going through a rapid transformation that is being enabled by digital technologies and the South African Digital Solutions Centre strengthens the company’s capacity to serve and support customers with technologies and capabilities that are key to the digital transformation of their operations.

The centre is aimed at helping customers to take major leaps in productivity and efficiency, driving competitiveness, quality, and security, through smart grid technology, electrification of all points of energy consumption and advanced automation solutions. It offers customers the ability to experience ABB’s digital solutions, advanced automation and 24/7 control room solutions in a fully equipped environment, encountering and solving challenging real-life scenarios. Once customers understand their business priorities and challenges, the centre is said to allow them to experience how ABB Ability solutions can unlock value across their entire value chain.

Remote support is going to be a major feature with ABB Ability remote insights for service allowing customers to remotely connect with ABB’s global experts using a laptop, tablet or mobile. Through this businesses save on maintenance costs, reduce downtime and increase safety in their operations. Remote access platform services are said to allow experts to access plant data remotely to analyse equipment and plant behaviour and recommend corrective actions.

Another focus of ABB is what they call the ‘control room of the future’. The platform is said to allow clients to actively participate in designing their control room and experience the space utilisation in virtual reality before it is even constructed or delivered on-site. “Studies indicate that up to 40% of unplanned downtime can be associated with operator error. This is why it is crucial to create an optimal environment that provides the necessary information and tools, putting the operator in focus,” said Manuell.

The centre’s ‘mine of the future’ is said to be of particular interest to the country’s mining industry. McKinsey estimates that mine digitalisation could save US$373bn globally by 2025 through raising productivity, reducing waste and keeping mines safe. The digital solutions presented at the centre are embedded under the ABB Ability MineOptimize portfolio, which provides mine operators with a suite of digitally connected solutions, products and collaborative services, to unify and optimise the lifecycle of a mine and ensure that the right people have the right information at the right time. Through the recently launched ABB Ability eMine portfolio, ABB brings together electrification, automation and digital technology like no other company. By digitally connecting all solutions, they can be monitored and controlled to optimise operations and energy usage in real-time. The digital offering for Ability eMine is focused around four pillars; power and process control, power and energy management, electrical asset performance management; mine operations management.

The centre, which will be live virtually for the first month of its operation, from 10 September to 8 October, will also offer a range of webinars and workshops designed to reveal the digital maturity level of an organisation, either at site or enterprise level. On-site visits are available to a limited number of customers at a time in line with Covid-19 protocols.

The most intensive of these are the Co-Creation workshops, a workshop format ranging from one to four hours up to up to five days. The workshop aims to establish customer’s digital maturity so that ideas and requirements are outlined and further specified, tested and evaluated. ABB then works with the customer to define follow-up plans as a deliverable.

“This centre was developed for our customers to bring collaboration and co-creation to new levels,” said Shiven Sukraj, local division manager for energy industries, South Africa. He further added, “ABB’s technologies are driving industrial productivity and contributing to South Africa’s innovation ecosystem in so many ways. Through deeper collaboration with customers and partners, we want to develop powerful solutions that add measurable business value and do our part to drive South Africa into the digital economy.”

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