ABB supplies 2400 robots to BMW

ABB is poised to start the New Year with a bang following the order of 2,400 robots by the BMW Group. Over the next three years the robots will be installed at factories in Regensburg and Leipzig, Germany, as well as in Tiexi, China. The ABB robots will mainly be used for material handling tasks, as well as gluing and spot welding processes.

BMW’s choice of ABB for the blanket supply of so many robots is telling. This is not the first such order BMW has made with ABB and is evidence of a strongly renewed relationship between the two companies.

‘’BMW is a world class and forward thinking customer,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, Head of ABB Robotics. “We are proud, that they have renewed their relationship with us and have again chosen to trust in innovative robot technology from ABB.  Auto makers clearly have confidence that investing in robotic automation is a sound business strategy.’’

ABB robots enable customers to implement efficient manufacturing systems that sustainably produce high-quality products. The company’s range of products and solutions for lean manufacturing cover the range from body-in-white to the final assembly of complete car bodies. They improve competitiveness and at the same time, optimally comply with customer specifications. ABB has installed more than 200,000 robots worldwide.

ABB acquires crane and harbour systems expertise

 The acquisition of the APS Technology Group of San Diego, California, expands the ABB portfolio for container terminal automation to optimize cargo handling and tracking from ship to gate.

APS Technology Group develops and markets solutions for the port industry. The acquisition will expand ABB’s crane system portfolio to the container terminal market. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Established in 2002, APS employs approximately 50 full-time people in its headquarters in San Diego, California, and its office in Long Beach, California. APS is a leading global supplier of vision based automation solutions that identify containers, trucks, rail equipment, and other transport assets for ports and intermodal container facilities. These systems help container terminals, port authorities and shipping lines to streamline their operations by automating manual processes within gate, vessel, rail and yard operations.

This addition will help ABB to expand its crane systems portfolio for the container terminal and adjacent supply chain markets. APS will join ABB’s Process Automation division.

“The acquisition of APS is an important milestone for us to expand our terminal automation offering and provide our customers with added-value integrated solutions,” said Heikki Soljama, head of ABB’s Marine and Cranes business unit. “This acquisition is a good strategic fit for our existing solution portfolio, and will further strengthen our product portfolio.”

“Joining ABB will enable us to extend our support and engineering capabilities as we expand into new geographic regions,” said Russ Scheppmann, CEO and founder of APS. “Our customers will also benefit from ABB’s global reach in sales and service, and combined efforts in R&D projects.”

Yokogawa and Energy Management

Yokogawa is pleased to announce the addition of Soteica Visual MESA’s best-in-class energy management and optimization solution services to its portfolio of plantwide energy management solutions (EMS). Yokogawa will provide this new offering to its customers through its strong sales and service channels. Yokogawa has also acquired 44.3% ownership of Soteica Visual MESA to accelerate the joint development of EMS.

Manufacturers around the world are highly interested in, and have a strong need for, EMS that will help them consume less energy and reduce their manufacturing costs. In addition, there is an increasing trend to optimize the mix of conventional and alternative energy sources used by plants, which can help to protect the environment by reducing the emissions of gases such as CO2 and NOX.

There are two components to energy management in plants. One is to make more efficient the supply and distribution of utilities, such as steam, electricity and fuel that are used by equipment in the main process, and the other is to optimize the energy consumed by the main process itself. Yokogawa has a competitive edge in control systems and advanced control solution packages for main processes, and helps its customers save energy by optimizing operations at their plants. At the same time, the company has lacked EMS for utilities that can be used to achieve the optimum mix of conventional and renewable energy sources, based on factors such as process operating conditions and energy prices. Until now, the company has had to devise solutions for such requirements on an ad hoc basis.

For this reason, Yokogawa has decided to partner with Soteica Visual MESA, a global technology leader in the EMS field that has worked closely with major oil companies and has a strong track record in the oil industry. The partnership will allow Yokogawa to sell Soteica Visual MESA’s well-proven Visual MESA energy management and optimization solution package, extending the range of solution services that it is able to offer to its customers. The partnership will also allow Soteica Visual MESA to expand its sales of Visual MESA through Yokogawa’s global sales network, with a particular focus on Asia.

Visual MESA is capable of reducing annual energy costs by approximately 2% to 5%. There are approximately 3,400 plants worldwide with $40 million or more in utility costs each year that could benefit from Visual MESA and obtain a return on their investment in one year or less, and Yokogawa will initially be targeting these facilities.

Yokogawa will provide high value added EMS services, including maintenance and sidewise energy management and optimization services (sustainability services). Yokogawa and Soteica Visual MESA will also cooperate in engineering with the aim of acquiring the knowledge needed to create a new business model for an EMS service that can help to optimize energy efficiency throughout a plant, including the main process and utilities.

“We are very excited about entering into this comprehensive partnership with Yokogawa as it will enable us to dramatically increase the exposure of Visual MESA, our industry leading solution for utilities optimization”, said Oscar Santollani, Soteica Visual MESA’s CEO. He added, “We have found in Yokogawa a partner with whom we share the same work ethics and engineering rigor. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”

Yokogawa President Shuzo Kaihori commented as follows: “Our customer’s technologically advanced plants need not only to reduce their energy consumption but also to obtain the best mix of conventional and renewable energy sources in order to protect the environment by reducing emissions of CO2, NOX, and other gases. To meet our customers’ growing needs in this area, Soteica is an ideal fit for Yokogawa, allowing us to deliver field proven plantwide energy management and optimization solutions and services.”

Eriks buys into two USA companies

Eriks has continued its expansion in the USA with two new acquisitions: IEC Control Shop, a Texas-based distributor of HVAC controls, and Regal-Brown Inc, an Alabama-based manufacturers’ representative for instrumentation, filtration, analytical, and valve products.  Both acquisitions were completed in December 2012.

Eriks has acquired IEC Control Shop through its subsidiary, Industrial Controls, the country’s leading distributor of controls, instrumentation, automation and automated valves.  IEC Control Shop has branch offices in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas, which will complement the Industrial Controls existing network of 18 branches and extend its territorial footprint into the rapidly growing Southwest and Gulf Coast.

Regal-Brown Inc has been acquired through the Eriks subsidiary Rawson Inc.  Regal-Brown will continue to operate under that name, as it has since its founding in 1988, serving customers throughout the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida.  This acquisition expands the Rawson coverage and gives them access to the strong markets in the southeast of the USA.

The acquisition of IEC Control Shop and Regal-Brown provides Eriks with a significantly strengthened market position in the USA and firmly underlines its status as a global industrial service provider.

New biopharma plant in Switzerland chooses Emerson automation

Belgium-based UCB has awarded Emerson Process Management a Euro4.7m contract to provide integrated process automation and operations management systems for a new biopharmaceutical production centre in Bulle, Switzerland. Emerson’s technologies and engineering services will be crucial in meeting the very high standards expected by the UCB project team.

UCB is investing Euro175m to construct the first phase of a new plant, its first biopharmaceutical project in Switzerland. The 20,000-square-metre facility, which will be one of the largest in Europe, will be the main production centre for Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

“The state-of-the-art and largely automated facility at Bulle will be a model for the industry when it opens in 2015,” said Michele Antonelli, UCB executive vice president. “To ensure the project meets its tight build-out schedule, we selected Emerson Process Management for its demonstrated ability to engineer and coordinate fast-track automation projects of this type.”

Emerson’s integrated solution includes its Syncade Smart Operations Management Suite, DeltaV digital automation system, and AMS Suite predictive maintenance software. Emerson will also provide related engineering services, including design, installation, testing and commissioning.

The Syncade Suite software integrates real-time plant floor data with business processes, decisions, and asset management – a key advantage in managing complex operations and extensive documentation required in pharmaceutical production. Syncade Suite manages workflow processes, including electronic work instructions, equipment status and material tracking, recipe-driven operations, automated weigh and dispense operations, and exception reporting.

“Typical biotech manufacturing can involve thousands of pieces of paper that can affect the ability to produce ‘right-first-time’ batches,” said Lorenzo Zampini, automation project manager. “With Emerson’s integrated operations management and control systems, we can automate the reporting process as well as gain tighter process control for increased productivity and smoother regulatory compliance.”

The Syncade software integrates with Emerson’s DeltaV automation system to facilitate operational activities and information flow from the plant floor up to UCB’s SAP system. In the UCB plant, the DeltaV system will control 163 process units including fermentation, purification, filtration, and bottling.  Emerson’s new electronic marshalling technology with CHARMs (characterization modules) will help minimise installation time by eliminating up to two-thirds of the wiring and connections needed with traditional control systems.

Emerson’s AMS Suite predictive maintenance software that will be supporting HART instrumentation will make it easy for technicians to calibrate critical instruments, check their status, and even detects potential problems before they affect operations.

“Emerson is delighted that UCB has chosen us to automate this ground-breaking facility,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “Our proven ability to provide a single source for both plant automation and operations management systems will help UCB seamlessly manage operations from the plant floor to the head office.  We look forward to working with them as they bring the Bulle facility to life.”

GE to sell Sharewell MWD systems worldwide

GE Oil & Gas and Sharewell Energy Services, a Houston-based supplier of directional drilling solutions for the oil and gas industry, have signed an agreement that gives GE exclusive worldwide rights to sell Sharewell’s proprietary electromagnetic telemetry (EM) technology. The agreement was announced at the GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting in Florence, which draws industry leaders from around the world.

GE will sell Sharewell’s Electro-Trac EM Measurement While Drilling (MWD) technology as part of GE’s MWD portfolio, enabling customers to expand their businesses into areas where EM MWD is applicable and to improve operating efficiencies by offering telemetry rates six times greater than conventional mud pulse based MWD systems.

“The new partnership moves Sharewell’s advanced EM MWD telemetry technology to the next level by combining GE’s global support network and best-in-class downhole sensing technology to offer customers a more complete solution in key global markets,” said James Junker, general manager of GE’s Downhole Technology business. “The agreement allows GE to offer an industry-leading compatible product to the large installed GE customer base and to attract new customers to GE MWD systems.”

The Electro-Trac EM system includes a rugged downhole assembly consisting of a gap-sub antenna package, an electronic assembly and a battery package. The system contains no moving parts, enhancing operations. The surface system includes a power amplifier for two-way communication with the EM tool. The technology is particularly suited for drilling applications where mud-pulse technology is problematic, such as underbalanced drilling.

Basic research for the development of the data fusion technology was done under a cooperative grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, as part of the “Deep Trek” initiative. The goal of that program was to develop technologies that lower the cost and improve the efficiency of drilling and completing deep wells. Sharewell’s data fusion system has completed nearly 700 commercial wells to depths of more than 15,300 feet.

Heat exchangers for Ichthys FPSO

Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in Korea is one of the world’s leading contractors specializing in the building offshore platforms, drilling rigs and FPSO vessels: a current project is to build an FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading vessel) for the Japanese oil giant INPEX for their Ichthys LNG project, to be stationed offshore from Western Australia.

Alfa Laval has won an order from DSME for this project, to supply large-sized Alfa Laval Aalborg heaters to preheat gas condensate prior to the onboard processing – which will produce an estimated 100,000 barrels of condensate a day. The order is worth around SEK130m ($20m).

South Korea has now become the fourth largest market for Alfa Laval, with an order intake of around SEK2Bn ($300m). “This is an interesting order in many ways; it includes our market leading Alfa Laval Aalborg heaters, it is from one of the biggest shipbuilders for advanced oil and gas vessels and it is in South Korea, which is becoming an increasingly important market for Alfa Laval” said Lars Renström, president and ceo of the Alfa Laval Group. “The order confirms our strong position as a reliable supplier to the oil and gas industry.”