The starting point for designing a retrofit is often complicated since retrofits require sophisticated engineering skills to deploy the newest drives technologies into the various generations of drives products while keeping in mind the customer´s needs like fast installation time, customization needs and the variable conditions on site. To efficiently provide ABB customers the best-value cost, ABB started a project to standardize its retrofit offering in late 2000s. In 2007 Marjukka Virkki, Finland’s current country service manager, was working as a drives service R&D manager and simultaneously managed the retrofit standardization and concept development project:
“When I started working as a retrofit project manager in 2007, I realized that to scale up the production volume of high quality retrofits for all potential customers, we cannot sell every retrofit solution on a case-by-case basis. Sure, a case-by-case ensures a design based on the customer´s exact needs, but it can challenge the quality of documentation and the installation time after sales support. Additionally, it was not possible to optimize the supply chain to achieve the product cost targets. Based on customer feedback, we needed to decrease our delivery times and, together with the volume increase, this would not have been possible without standardization. We further needed to increase our field service capabilities as the number of installations was growing globally and therefore the need for high quality documentation and training material and courses became more evident. A continuous learning process was set up to decrease the probability of risks materializing. We started the development work by assessing the market situation and needs and, with the help of a small project team, we continued by defining product structure with standardized subassemblies and by creating documentation, instructions, and process descriptions. In close cooperation with sourcing, we selected the suppliers and built up the volume production line with clear KPIs and targets.”
Retrofit service development has always been about the customer and meeting the customer´s needs. Marjukka further explains how to ensure the best quality service for the customers:
“In the retrofit service development we aimed to primarily use the same components as in the newest drive products. Consequently, the installation and assembly would be more efficient and the retrofit´s reliability would be improved, as the existing components had already been tested and approved by the product factory. We further used the existing design and documentation standards and ways of working in the product development. Fast forward to today, everything from air gap dimensions to controlling electrical eddy currents in retrofits are expected to meet the same design criteria as our new products. This too illustrates our high-quality standards.”
Today most retrofits are delivered as a standard package. By utilizing continuous learning principles, ABB ensures the highest quality and most cost efficient retrofit solutions with fast delivery and installation times. Additionally, the standardized packages can minimize the time and risk of retrofit projects. Even though standardized packages provide many advantages, ABB still develops some retrofits on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the customer´s various needs are fulfilled. In all ABB’s retrofits, systematic documentation methods, quality assurance and highly trained engineers ensure the high quality and long lifetime of the drives.