Sweet success – power distribution automation for a sugar factory

Sweet success – power distribution automation for a sugar factory

With its future-oriented concepts and visualization capabilities, ABB’s power distribution automation system is helping Sucrivoire boost productivity and safety in their Ivory Coast sugar plant.

Since 1970, annual sugar production in the Ivory Coast has risen from virtually zero to around 200,000 metric tons. A recently privatized state company, Sucrivoire – now a subsidiary of the SIFCA Group, an agribusiness group based in the Ivory Coast – is a major player in this rapidly expanding sugar market. Sucrivoire manufactures and sells multipurpose quality cane sugar that is used in syrups, baking products and medicines. Sucrivoire’s factory has an annual sugar production capacity of 110,000 t, generated from their 11,000 hectares of sugar cane plantations. Production is on track to increase to 118,000 t by 2020.

With a single major facility, large annual production quantities and ambitious plans to expand the amount of produce, it is clear that plant uptime is a parameter of the utmost importance for Sucrivoire – particularly during seasonal production peaks.

One major cause of downtime for Sucrivoire is disruption in the power supplied to the plant. To combat this threat, Sucrivoire opted to employ ABB’s latest power distribution automation technology.

The new ABB distribution automation system combines digital technologies, conventional devices and plug-in applications that enable operators to monitor and quickly obtain a visual overview of the power infrastructure. They are also presented with a list of alarms and trends related to plant operations. This information enables them to reduce power disruptions or restore the supply speedily in case of outages, thereby minimizing unnecessary downtime →2-3. Further, the flexibility of the new distribution automation technology allows for quick and accurate measurement of key production parameters, which enables higher productivity and improved plant safety.

Comprehensive visualization of the plant’s power situation allows optimization of operations
Comprehensive visualization of the plant’s power situation allows optimization of operations


A key element of the power distribution system is the RTU540 remote terminal unit (RTU). The RTU540 bridges old and new technology and combines existing devices and new standard protocols in one system. An RTU540 incorporates advanced features such as programmable logic control and a human-machine interface (HMI) that are connected to a set of displays. These displays deliver a visualization of the status of the sugar factory’s breakers and disconnectors, with measurement values as well as alarm lists and trends. The high-quality, RTU540 compact metal housing can, if necessary, include input and output modules, thus saving space in the control cabinet. The intelligence in the RTU540 allows upfront fast selective data interpretation so that operators are presented with the critical information they need in an efficient manner and less important data is de-emphasised so there is no confusing clutter.

The RTU540 is also simple to configure, so changing sugar factory topologies can be easily accommodated and overview of the critical power data retained.

UniGear ZS1

As a further enhancement to Sucrivoire’s sugar factory power infrastructure, the medium-voltage (MV) air-insulated switchgear has been replaced with ABB’s UniGear ZS1. ABB’s UniGear Digital is a new concept based on an optimized integration of current and voltage sensors into MV switchgear, combined with the latest intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and IEC 61850 communication. The concept is embodied in the MV air-insulated switchgear, UniGear ZS1. With the UniGear Digital, “one size fits all” so there is no need to change primary MV components if the load changes. This approach saves time and money during project planning and execution. Energy losses during operation are lower too as the instrument transformer is eliminated. Further, operator safety is enhanced by having all MV parts fully encapsulated in arc-proof cubicles.


The power distribution automation system in the Sucrivoire factory also features combined protection and control devices from ABB’s Relion family of IEDs. The Relion product family offers the widest range of products for the protection, control, measurement and supervision of power systems for IEC and ANSI applications. To ensure interoperable and future-proof solutions, Relion products have been designed to implement the core values of the IEC 61850 standard.

ABB AbilityTM

The ABB products employed in the Sucrivoire factory benefit from ABB’s overarching digitalization concept – ABB Ability. ABB Ability is a unified, cross-industry digital capability - extending from device to edge to cloud - with devices, systems, solutions, services and a platform that enables more knowledge of the system, more capabilities and improved performance delivered by the connectivity of ABB Ability enabled equipment.

ABB’s distribution automation systems

ABB’s distribution automation system offering contains a much wider range of products than those delivered to Sucrivoire: From basic distribution automation systems, renewable integration and battery storage right up to advanced distribution automation systems, ABB delivers greenfield solutions as well as the ability to modernize existing installations in the most cost-efficient way, as is the case at Sucrivoire.

Sucrivoire’s ABB power distribution automation system has vastly improved the factory power grid reliability and efficiency and has given the operators full vision into the power infrastructure as well as control over it, thus enabling the factory to boost productivity and safety. In this way, Sucrivoire can ensure that the ambitious production goals they have set themselves have every chance of becoming a reality.

 Note: Original article featured in ABB Review 3/2018


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