What are the Freelance benefits?

The Freelance distributed control system (DCS) is ABB’s user-friendly, cost-effective and robust solution ideal for nearly all process industries, providing the following benefits:

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Easy to use

The Freelance DCS can be installed on any standard computer and in just five minutes. A Quickstart Tutorial is available, which allows users to learn at their own pace with detailed instructional videos. It takes less than a week to learn since there is just one engineering tool. Pre-engineered, ready-to-use displays make engineering much easier than others. Additionally, a single project database makes archiving or backup very easy to perform. There is also multiple language support capability.

Efficient Engineering

The Freelance control system combines user-friendly engineering with an open, modern system architecture. This means:

  • Only one tool for engineering, commissioning and diagnostics - Freelance Engineering
  • Fieldbus management completely integrated into control system engineering
  • Time and cost savings in engineering, commissioning, testing, service and maintenance
  • Assembly close to the field: reduction of field wiring and space requirements
  • Freelance has a convenient cross-reference feature allowing variables and tags to be found easily in any editor right up to the graphic display. This makes troubleshooting and debugging easier, resulting in faster project execution.

Pre-configured components for the operator level

The engineering of the Freelance operator level is straight forward. The pre-configured visualization components include:

  • Faceplates
  • Module diagnostics
  • Extended troubleshooting capabilities
  • Automatically generated sequence diagrams
  • Automatically generated system communication
  • Event list and alarm line
  • Trend displays with long-term archiving

These components can be used straight out of the box, eliminating time-consuming manual  configuration.


The Freelance DCS can be easily scaled up from a small system of a few I/Os to a large system of up to thousands of I/Os. Expansion can be done with minimal engineering effort.

A Freelance system can consist of one or combination of several AC 700F, AC 800F and/or AC 900F controllers. It can be extended with fieldbuses, field devices and remote I/Os. With AC 800F and AC 900F, you have the option of configuring your entire system in redundancy.

Scalable system architecture

As shown in the architecture drawing, Freelance can go from a typical OEM offering with an AC 700F controller, a Panel 800 and around 50-100 I/Os. AC 700F can have up to eight direct I/O modules connected to it or have remote I/Os connected via PROFIBUS. Modbus RTU and TCP are also supported. The Freelance Lite offering can typically have an AC 700F or AC 900F controller and will be in the 250 to 400 I/O range with possibly a combination license and a few operator stations. This can ramp up to the Freelance Standard and Premium offerings with the AC 800F and/or AC 900F, with or without redundancy. Freelance can go up to thousands of I/Os. Connections include Foundation Fieldbus, PROFIBUS and Hart as well. There is also the possibility to connect to super-visory control stations running on ABB 800xA system.  

  • The AC 700F controller has a small footprint that supports PROFIBUS. It can support up to eight direct I/O modules. The AC 700F optionally supports PROFIBUS line redundancy. 
  • The AC 800F controller can be equipped with up to four field-bus modules of type serial, PROFIBUS, FF HSE or Freelance CAN bus. Optionally, AC 800F supports redundancy.
  • The new AC 900F controller also supports PROFIBUS  and truly extends the hardware portfolio of the Freelance distributed control system. The AC 900F modular controller offers expanded flexibility via a pluggable SD card, more Ethernet ports, redundancy options for high availability and power enough for around 1,500 I/Os per controller.

All controller types can be used in combination in a single system. They are suitable both for installation in the control room and for use in junction boxes directly in the field.


Freelance is a well-proven technology that has been around for about 20 years in thousands of applications globally since its origination in Germany.

There are hardly any maintenance issues encountered after the system is installed. It has consistently performed well in ABB’s annual customer survey. Existing customers are staunchly loyal to this product. 

High availability through redundancy

The technology has proven its worth in industrial use over several years and meets the toughest requirements regarding availability. The hardware can be structured redundantly at all levels. This includes the redundant fieldbus modules, redundant fieldbus lines as well as network and controller redundancy

Regulatory compliance

With a view to meeting the requirements of regulatory authorities such as the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), Freelance provides a series of features that facilitate the validation procedure.
Examples include:

  • Encrypted log and trend data
  • Audit trail functions
  • Access rights and user administration (security lock)

Value for your money

The big advantage of Freelance is the savings it provides in project engineering.The easy-to-use features and use of only one tool for configuration of graphics, controllers and field devices allows commissioning time to be reduced, resulting in faster start-ups.

Freelance also has a small footprint (comparable to a PLC), which means less space requirement for cabinets. Since the system uses intelligent peer-to-peer architecture, there is no need for expensive server PCs.

System requirements

In fact, Freelance can run on any standard computer with the following minimum specifications*:

  • RAM: 3GB –Hard disk: > 80GB (or 10GB for Freelance Engineering only)
  • CPU speed: > 2GHz
  • Operating system: Microsoft® Windows 7, Windows 10 and Windows 2008 Server R1/R2 (32/64 bit) (For OPC Server)
*For older versions, please refer to “Freelance Getting Started Manual” for the specifications.

What are further benefits?

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