ABB claims increased profits in a challenging 2015

Ulrich Spiesshofer

Ulrich Spiesshofer

There has been very little news of orders, applications or new products from the Process Automation side of ABB over the last six months, basically since the acquisition of the CGM wide screen display business last August. So it was reassuring to read the 2015 full year results, published this month, where CEO Ulrich Speisshofer advises that orders and revenues were steady, on a constant currency basis, in the face of adverse macro-economic and geo-political developments: it was just that the strength of the US Dollar compared to the prior year resulted in a negative translation impact into the final figures, of around 9%.

Because of productivity improvements, and accelerated cost reduction programmes, plus a successful turnaround of the Power Systems business, the operational EBITA margin improved 60 points to 11.8%, and free cash flow generation improved 16% (or 6% in USD) to $3Bn. The strategic review of the Power Grids business is on track for completion in 2016. Through 2015, ABB returned $3.2Bn to shareholders, and now proposes another dividend increase this year, the 7th year running.

Highlights and detail

Speisshofer mentioned particularly the launch of the YuMi collaborative robot, and their targeting on food and beverage markets and Africa as very successful. Declines in orders at Process Automation and Discrete Automation/Motion were offset by growth from Power Systems and Power Products – Process Automation suffered from a marked decrease in the discretionary spending from oil and gas markets in Q4 2015. However one major order received was for monitoring, control and security of the 1850km Trans-Anatolian pipeline, which will bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. The strategic review of the Power Grids business is on track for completion in 2016.

Geographically orders grew by 7% in Europe, reflecting steady demand from Germany, and major growth in Sweden and Turkey. While the Americas were steady, China showed a double digit decline, causing a fall in the total Asia plus MEA territory. Large orders (above $15m) grew 10% (down 5% in USD terms) which offset the base order decline of 3% (which was 14% in USD).

…..HVDC links are growing

L_The+Gotland+HR pic smallABB installed the World’s first HVDC power transmission link from Vastervik to Ygne on the island of Gotland, in the Baltic, in 1954. Upgraded through the years, this link now operates at 150kV, and can transmit 320MW of power over 100km under the sea, providing electric power to the 58,000 residents. In December the operator, Vattenfall Eldistribution, awarded ABB a new $22m contract for further enhancements that will enable greater amounts of the wind power now generated on the island to be returned to the mainland: a state-of-the-art MACH control and protection system will be installed to incorporate advanced fault registration and remote control functions. Having pioneered this technology 60 years ago, ABB has supplied 110 similar projects world-wide, with a capacity total of 120,000 MW – this represents around half the global installed capacity for this technology.

See the pdf giving the ABB review of the development of HVDC power technology: http://tinyurl.com/Ptalk-ABB

(c) Nick Denbow 2016

Newsline: NewProcessingTalk@Gmail.com

Major EMEA process industry conference in April

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12 to 14 April will see a major exhibit of process instrumentation and automation solutions in Brussels, open to all EMEA process engineers and systems users. This type of event has replaced the crowded, commercial exhibition/conference, and is targeted at the real users who need to understand the latest developments available. Admittedly financed by one supplier, Emerson Process Management, it gives the customer the ability to look and listen to the capabilities of their systems in detail, and talk to the real engineers behind the products, not just the salesmen. Better than that, all the other delegates are similar users of process installations, with their own experience: some present this in the applications lectures, but plenty of others are available for discussions around the exhibition.

The conference programme consists of over 100 different presentations over the three days, and will include industry forums, allowing open discussions between delegates and experienced industry professionals, plus a solutions exhibition, where delegates can receive hands-on demonstrations of Emerson’s latest and most innovative products and services.

The event, known as the Emerson Global Users Exchange, is managed by a board of directors, comprising users from a range of industries, who formulate the conference content and guide the direction of the users group at large. It has been running in the USA for many years, but this is welcomed as their third such event in Europe, bringing European, Middle East and African users together to share experience and learn.

To get more information and register for the event go to www.EmersonExchange.org/emea

Rockwell expands in conveying systems

Rockwell Automation is to purchase MagneMotion, a US-based manufacturer of intelligent conveying systems. MagneMotion systems are used across a broad range of industrial applications including automotive and general assembly, packaging and materials handling. This acquisition will complement the recently acquired iTrak technology from Jacobs Automation, to create the broadest portfolio of independent ‘cart’ solutions in this emerging technology area.

“This acquisition continues our strategy to build a portfolio of smart manufacturing technologies that brings next generation performance to our customers today,” said Marco Wishart, vp and gm of the Rockwell Automation motion control business. “MagneMotion expands our existing capabilities in independent cart technology. Our recent acquisition of Jacobs Automation and its iTrak technology is complementary to MagneMotion’s portfolio. We see a future where the transportation of products within the factory, whether inside of a particular machine or between machines, will be fully controlled to optimise the productivity and flexibility of the entire process.”

“This deal is the logical next step in the evolution of our business, and a welcome development for MagneMotion,” said Todd Weber, president and CEO of MagneMotion. “The leading position of Rockwell Automation in plant-wide controls and industrial automation gives us the best opportunity to introduce this technology to customers. As the market continues to realize the benefits of applying independent cart technology, the global Rockwell organisation will be a tremendous asset.”

MagneMotion is based in Devens, Massachusetts.

CCGT power plant in Turkey orders Valmet DNA automation systems

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The Hamitabat Kirklareli CCGT plant

Valmet is delivering their DNA Automation system to control twin CCGT power generation systems at the Hamitabat Elektrik Üretim 1200MW gas-fired plant in the Marmara region of Turkey. The plant is being constructed on a turnkey basis by an EPC, Gama Güç Sistemleri Mühendislik ve Ticaret AS: deputy md Altan Orer explained that they had selected Valmet because of their proven expertise: “We were impressed by Valmet’s strong combined cycle plant references in Turkey and around the world. The company has proven its expertise and excellence in power generation.”

 

The Valmet system also includes plant information and performance monitoring systems which will enable the plant to achieve high process availability, controllability and reliability. The DNA system offers information management and plant performance calculations all on the same integrated platform, which provides the plant operators with major benefits, such as better usability, uniform tools and seamless communication between various functions. Valmet will also supply local technical support for the plant operators.

(c) Nick Denbow, Processingtalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

Major Emerson Cat Cracker project at BP Whiting Refinery

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A view of the BP Whiting Refinery, photo courtesy of BP

Emerson Process Management is providing process automation technologies and services to help British Petroleum (BP) further enhance the safety, reliability, and performance of its Whiting refinery in Northwest Indiana, USA – without the costly downtime often required for such projects.

The project to upgrade the process control system of two fluid catalytic cracking units is part of a strategic BP-Emerson automation upgrade programme. It follows BP’s earlier multi-billion-dollar Whiting Refinery Modernisation Project, which was one of the largest investments in BP history. Emerson also provided process automation for that massive upgrade, which helped BP boost its heavy-crude capacity more than four-fold.

The Whiting refinery is BP’s largest and a major supplier to the Midwest and other parts of the United States. One of the key benefits that Emerson brings is its experience managing “hot cutover” projects – upgrading units while the operation continues running, which helps BP maintain a secure supply of fuel for its customers. Catalytic crackers are primarily used to produce high octane gasoline in the refining process.

Emerson has already provided upgraded automation technologies for one of the cat crackers, implementing a new DeltaV distributed control system. Diagnostics available in the DeltaV system can help BP detect problems well before an unintended loss of operation, saving money and improving efficiency.

For the second cat cracker, Emerson will provide a DeltaV control system and integrated DeltaV SIS safety system. The integrated control and safety system will provide a common operations and engineering environment and access to extensive diagnostics across the unit. The complete automation upgrade also includes Emerson’s Fisher control valves and Rosemount measurement instruments.

“The ability to use our resources and experience from one stage of the upgrade programme on another stage helps BP manage project cost and schedule risks,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “Our commissioning and start-up expertise developed in previous projects also helps BP safely and reliably improve performance without unexpected downtime, providing significant benefits to its customers that rely on a predictable supply of gasoline.”

Further Yokogawa CCGT and Desalination business in Qatar

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The QEWC Ras Abu Fontas plant

A press release this week from Yokogawa announces that the Yokogawa South Korean engineering operation has won another major contract from Samsung C&T for Centum VP control and ProSafe-RS safety systems for a 2.4GW Combined Cycle gas turbine power and desalination plant. The plant is to be built in Qatar, using local natural gas as the fuel, and will make up an important part of the future Qatari infra-structure: it will be located 20km south of Doha. It will be operated by Umm Al Houl Power, a joint venture consortium which includes Mitsubishi/Tokyo Electric Power and Qatar Petroleum, the Qatar Foundation, and the Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC).

Another order from Acciona Agua covers the supply of an associated Yokogawa Centum VP control system for a reverse osmosis water desalination plant to be created as a part of the power plant. Separately, Yokogawa received an order placed by Hitachi Zosen Corporation for a Centum VP control system on a further multi-stage flash desalination plant. Combined, the two desalination plants will produce 590,000 cubic meters of water per day.

Yokogawa will be responsible for the engineering of these interlinked systems, which will be able to monitor and control the operations of all three plants: plus they will provide support for installation and commissioning.

Yokogawa Experience

Yokogawa in South Korea has developed extensive expertise in working alongside Korean and Japanese power plant contractors, and claims a solid global track record in executing large CCGT projects, based on over 100 systems for combined cycle power plants. This capability was demonstrated in Qatar on a previous desalination plant for QEWC, known as the Ras Abu Fontas A2 project, and previous CCGT projects alongside Samsung C&T have included a 2.1GW plant at Rabigh on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast.

Yokogawa anticipates major growth in demand for CCGT plants worldwide, particularly where there is access to local supplies of natural gas. However, some recent projects have been more unconventional, with a recent installation in Ireland using a high speed controller to manage a fly-wheel energy storage system for smoothing the output power from wind farms! Another project in Cornwall, UK, will use Centum VP and ProSafe-RS to control the boilers and auxiliary systems on a waste to energy plant, their fourth such installation in the UK.

(c) Nick Denbow:  www.ProcessingTalk.info

@Processingtalk

Yokogawa expands intoTurkey

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced that its subsidiary, Yokogawa Europe BV has acquired 100% of the shares of its distributor in Turkey, Birleşik Endüstriyel Sistemler Ve Tesisler AS (BEST), which is based in Izmir. Yokogawa sees this as a major step forward into the emerging market in Turkey and the associated area. The acquisition of shares was carried out on November 25.

With this acquisition, Yokogawa is strengthening its focus on Turkey as a market with substantial growth potential. It will allow Yokogawa to extend its position in several promising segments, such as the power industry. Through the acquisition, Yokogawa will also enhance its relationships with customers in Turkey.

“BEST has been Yokogawa’s distributor since 1977 and has already built an excellent reputation in the oil and gas industries, where it will continue to provide great value to customers,” comments Yokogawa Europe’s president Herman van den Berg: “Yokogawa is committed to working with customers as partners to help them get maximum value from their plant operations, and this acquisition is a major step forward in our plans to grow our footprint in emerging markets, and specifically in target industries including the power and energy sectors.”