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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 usable 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 lifecycle 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 Care and Automation Sentinel Program, our unique control system lifecycle management programs.

Lifecycle Policy

It is ABB’s goal to protect our customers’ intellectual investment (i.e. application software) beyond the lifecycles 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 or Superior 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 lifecycle management model divides a product's lifecycle into four phases: Active, Classic, Limited and Obsolete. Each phase has different implications for the end user in terms of services and support provided. 

ABB automation systems are designed to facilitate the adoption of new technology with continuity of the underlying customer applications. Individual component products (hardware and software) transition through the lifecycle phases of Active, Classic, Limited and Obsolete as they are superseded by newer technologies and offerings.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 from active development on the product with the full advantages of new functionalities as well as a complete range of ABB lifecycle 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. 

The second phase of the lifecycle is the Classic phase. Products enter this phase when there is a functional or superior equivalent product replacement available.  During the “Classic” phase the product is still in production however there are no new enhancements being added. Typical product maintenance 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 lifecycle 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 lifecycle.

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 12 months in advance of the transition but may have to be shorter for reasons such as short notification from our vendors. This is done to allow customers and ABB’s service organization sufficient time to purchase required spare parts to stock after which time manufacturing of new products will cease. 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, the product is no longer available for sale.  Support is available and is typically limited to available inventory, 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. Products move to Obsolete when it is no longer possible to support  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, new spare parts continue until remaining inventory is consumed, then complemented with other Spare Parts Services, such as the Parts Repair and Parts Refurbishment Services. 

Spare Parts as described above are supported for a period of typically 10 years from time when the product enters the Classic phase. When the product reaches the Obsolete phase spare parts are no longer available, however refurbishment and repair may be offered.

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

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