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Lifecycle Policy for distributed control systems

ABB is committed to support our customers’ installed system base.

We want to maximize the useable life of our customers’ system investment and provide our customers with the confidence that there is a well-defined support for, and a path forward for existing ABB systems.  

ABB has defined a product support life cycle policy for its process automation control systems and products to help our customers’ predict support for their automation assets. This policy then forms the basic lifecycle management foundation for ABB’s Automation Sentinel Program, our unique control system lifecycle management program.

Lifecycle Policy

ABB’s control systems are designed for continuous evolution. It is ABB’s goal to protect our customers’ intellectual investment (i.e. application software) beyond the life cycles of the underlying platform products (i.e. hardware and software).

ABB will not "Remove from Active Sale" any product or "family" of products until an equivalent replacement to those products is available. Once a product has been removed from active sale, ABB will continue to support the product for at least 10 years, although exceptions to this may occur if components or technologies needed are no longer available to ABB. 

Within this support period ABB will announce a “Last Buy” opportunity at least 12 months prior to the end of manufacturing (except in cases where there is a direct form, fit and function replacement). It is ABB’s intention to provide support for as long as there are significant customer needs after the "Manufacturing End" through field service, repair and by making replacement spares (new or refurbished modules) available.

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Lifecycle Management Model

The life cycle management model divides a product's life cycle into four phases: active, classic, limited and obsolete. Each phase has different implications for the end user in terms of services and support provided. 

All control systems effectively remain in Active phase, with individual component products (hardware and software) transitioning through the lifecycle phases of Active, Classic, Limited and Obsolete as they are superseded by newer technologies and offerings.

The initial Active phase is entered when a product is released for sale and is actively marketed for new installations and projects.  The length of time for Active classification is dependent on market conditions, technology advances, and hardware and software component availability to ABB.

During this phase, customers benefit form active development on the product with the full advantages of new functionalities as well as a complete range of ABB life cycle services, spare parts and maintenance materials.

ABB's intent is to develop and market products that support upgrade with minimal impact to the customer's process. 

There is an announcement and notification when a product is about to be removed from active sales. This “Removed from Active Sale” notice occurs at least (12) months in advance of the transition. This announcement may be bypassed if a product is replaced by an exact form, fit and function upgrade.

The second phase of the lifecycle is the Classic phase. Typical product maintenance in this phase is limited to product changes due to vendor obsolescence of components, or any serious latent problems that have a major impact on product operation.

During this phase customers can take advantages of the complete range of ABB life cycle services, spare parts and maintenance materials. In addition to offerings available in 'active' phase, end users may evolve to new technology by using upgrade and retrofit solutions providing improved performance and extension of the life cycle.

LAST BUY is a sub-phase within the Classic phase. Product management will issue a notice that the product will be moving to the LAST BUY phase. This notice will be sent at least (12) months in advance of the transition, but may have to be shorter for reasons such as short notification from our vendors. LAST BUY is immediately followed by MANUFACTURING END. At this point all support and manufacturing by product organization is ended. Exceptions may occur if software and hardware components or technologies are no longer economically available to ABB.

The third phase of the lifecycle is the Limited phase. At this point, product responsibility is transferred to the Service organization and product support is now performed solely by the Service organization. Support in the Limited phase is typically limited to field service, workshop repair and refurbished spare parts. 

During this phase, end users are recommended to start planning to evolve to new technology before product support ceases. Spare part services continue as long as components and materials are available, and throughout the course of time the use of reconditioned parts increases.

All of these services are on a best effort basis and provided as long as it is both technically and commercially feasible to do so. The length of this support phase may be enhanced by the active return of valuable hardware. A flexible Classic to Limited transition is used where the volume of the actual hardware part will determine the transition point in time. The combined Classic and Limited support time is targeted to be ten years from when the product was made classic.

The fourth phase of the lifecycle is the Obsolete phase which is entered when the Automation Service organization decides that it is no longer capable of supporting the product technically or that it is no longer commercially feasible to do so. A notice will be issued at least 6 months prior to the start of the Obsolete phase.

Spare part availability

Spare Parts availability is secured in the phases – Active, Classic and Limited. New Spare Parts are actively manufactured in the Active and Classic phases. In the Limited phase, stocked parts can be complemented with other Spare Parts Services, such as the Parts Repair Service and the Parts Refurbishment Service. 

Spare Parts are supported for a period of 10 years from time when the product enters the Classic phase. When the product reaches the Obsolete phase the spare parts availability can no longer be guaranteed. However, the Service organization may still be able to support the product, or parts of it, on a best effort basis, limited to available parts and component inventory.

Upon individual customer request, ABB can offer Extended Life Cycle Support agreements to meet individual customer needs for Spare Parts Services beyond the standard product lifecycle commitment. The Extended Lifecycle Support agreements can include Parts, Parts Repair Services and Refurbished Parts Services during the product Life Cycle.

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