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System 800xA’s Select I/O fundamentally changes automation project execution

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For decades, automation projects have used controller-centric distributed control system (DCS) architectures. Such architectures create a significant number of interdependencies between project tasks that can easily lead to considerable cost overruns and delays should any change orders be implemented. ABB has developed a new I/O family – complete with engineering tools and methodologies – that eliminates this scenario and takes project efficiency to the next level, making over-budget or late automation projects a thing of the past.

One example of project interdependency is when a “design freeze” is declared before hardware purchase, which, in turn, has to precede application engineering, and so on. Any changes to the design, like changing I/O types, adding I/O, moving I/O to a different controller, etc., require potentially costly change orders due to the amount of work needed to make changes after design freeze.

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Select I/O

In response, ABB has developed an extension to the System 800xA family of I/O solutions called Select I/O. Select I/O is a single channel I/O solution for both process and safety applications that communicates with the system via a redundant industrial Ethernet I/O network.

The Select I/O terminations can be installed and wired in the field early in the project phase, obviating the need for space-consuming marshalling cabinets. The signal types can be defined much later by adding individual signal conditioning modules, which reduces the financial impact of any late changes.

“xStream” Engineering and digital marshalling

With the multiple clusters of Select I/O communicating on a redundant Ethernet network, the I/O can be automatically scanned, configured, and checked in the field in parallel with the application engineering being done in the ABB project factory.

This paralleling is called “xStream” engineering and includes soft marshalling capabilities that automatically converge the two workstream deliverables – ie, the application engineering project and field I/O configuration – just before final commissioning.

The result is that automation is removed from the overall project critical path. Fewer surprises, fewer change orders, earlier commissioning of projects and happier owner-operators is the result

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