Shaping the future of industries with digitalization and automation

Rajesh Ramachandran, Global Chief Digital Officer – Process Automation & ABB Ability, ABB, in interaction with CIOTechOutlook, shares his views on the evolving industrial automation market in India and the impact of digitalization on automation. An abridged version of the original article published in the July 2022 issue

The global industrial automation market is projected to reach USD 395.09 billion by 2029. How do you see this market evolving in India? What are the major factors driving growth of this market?

The industrial automation market has been expanding over the past few years, and with the pandemic, the need to automate became a priority. Additionally, energy transition and sustainability goals as well as increased focus on operational excellence and the pressure to lower operations costs have boosted the automation market. India’s growth in this market is much higher than global growth. We also expect a strong double-digit rise of more than 14% over the next seven years, giving us a market value of USD 33 billion.

How does digitalization impact automation?

Digitalization and automation go hand-in-hand. Based on certain external forces, some industries are peaking while others are declining. For instance, the mining industry, with a greater focus on sustainability and carbon footprint reduction, is now relying on digitalization to meet sustainability norms.

The second element is new industries that are energy-intensive and asset-focused, where it is important to align automation and digitalization. To achieve this, it is key to ensure you automate processes and keep them running safely. At the same time, there are many other factors to consider. How do you streamline processes? How do you enable operational efficiency? How do you optimize energy consumption? How do you find new ways of improving sustainability and reducing emissions? 

Therefore, there is always an intersection of automation and digitalization, which is evident in how technology is evolving. The evolution of automation with digitalization is coming together as a technology and digital revolution. Subsequently, the consumption of this technology has been converging as the workforce changes – whether it is millennials who are looking at the value of automation and digitalization in the same sense, or whether it is for operations or process or quality or even sustainability and asset performance.

Automation brings stability and the control loop closer to the process. Digitalization sits above automation and harnesses the power of data by combining data domain as well as technology with artificial intelligence, enabling the best in process automation and the highest value out of data.

How does ABB seamlessly extend the automation to digitalization?

We have been serving numerous industries for more than 130 years. ABB is one of the few companies that has supported all four industrial revolutions from industry 1.0 to 4.0. Therefore, we have a large customer base and are also the No.1 DCS automation solution provider for a variety of industries. Customers searching for digitalization and digital transformation look to see how ABB protects its existing automation investments, and how the company extends them with digitalization.

We have significantly invested in the last four years, exploring ways to extend the automation loop to an outer loop – which is the digital loop – through innovation, a new portfolio and new platform suites, including the ABB Ability™ platform. The ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI suite demonstrates how to integrate with our DCS. Third-party systems also provide a secure way for "edge to the cloud," meaning that you can get information from operational data securely from ABB’s automation system.

We can combine data from engineering, product asset management and quality management as well as financial data from other IT systems (such as the IBM Maximo), helping to unlock the value of operational data.

We can achieve true OT/IT integration, including operational, IT and engineering systems, which are integrated in terms of data from all the systems that are contextualized for a specific process, for a specific asset and for specific business outcomes. That has immense potential value. However, 73% of the data generated is currently not used in decision-making.

Through ABB’s DCS, along with our digital platform and solutions, such as Genix, we can unlock the value of unused data. By automating the whole contextualization of integration by 80%, and applying industrial analytics and AI, you can generate as much as 40% productivity gains when you apply this at scale. That's the power of combining automation and digitalization. As a provider of both the technologies, our long-term customers can benefit as we extend both automation and digitalization solutions.

Please elaborate on how cloud-based industrial analytics software help organizations to optimize their businesses and facilitate informed and strategic decision-making?

ABB’s cloud-based industrial analytics software can be utilized anywhere. It can be deployed at the edge, closer to the DCS or the process, or at the plant level. Furthermore, customers are seeing the value of cloud-based solutions, where you do a lot of data manipulation, data mining, as well as data analytics, and then bring back and run those trained models closer to the process to the edge as well.

In the hybrid cloud, you run, you train, and you bring it back to the edge. This is a lot more prevalent now. But from ABB's perspective, we launched ABB Ability™ Genix, which is a next-generation native software-as-a-service offering for cloud-based industrial analytics and AI. It unlocks the value of data that is not used today, not limited to only operational data, but also bringing OT/IT and engineering data together. Thereby, we bring the value of the data, which is extremely important, with contextualization, to drive business insights.

Next, we need to examine why certain organizations are struggling. They are struggling because integrating siloed data from multiple systems is difficult. For example, in a water utility, or an oil and gas plant, as many as 30 systems need to be connected.

You can't collect data by simply installing sensors on these machines. The context is coming from all of these disparate systems. Data needs to be contextualized, and it also needs to be integrated in an automated fashion, which is achieved by Genix.

The third aspect is that a lot of use cases, and several specific value pillars, involve ABB in four major areas. The first is sustainability. How do you cut down on emissions? How do you optimize energy? The second is asset performance management. How do you improve asset reliability? And the third is process performance. How do you keep improving process quality and process performance? The fourth area is looking at how you bring in extended automation software. This means how you deliver the same DCS software output but use it as quickly for digital and mobile operations that you would like to manage. How do you control that?

We look at bringing these value pillars together. To make it all safe and smart, you need to have cyber security, which will help to reduce and manage risk. And finally, you achieve operational excellence, which includes manufacturing operations management, but also a digital layer that achieves operational excellence across a fleet and enterprise.

These value pillars are built as applications or value pillar applications on top of the industrial analytics and AI suite, helping to provide an immediate return on investment.

Hence, it is not surprising that the asset performance management market is growing at more than 31% CAGR today. It is extremely critical that we deliver the highest utilization reliability as well as predictive maintenance for critical assets, especially for asset-focused and energy-intensive industries.

How do you see the market for industrial automation and digitalization growing in near future?

Industrial automation is still going to be the backbone, and it will be a critical enabler of digitalization. The market is going to grow, with industrial automation expanding on multiple fronts. Why is industrial automation important? Firstly, it is important because there are a lot of new industries with complex facilities that are gaining prevalence.

Each of these complex facilities needs a sizeable number of automation systems. Secondly, existing plants are becoming more complex. These are significant place for automation and digitalization together. An example is unmanned oil and gas platforms. We have been serving a large oil and gas customer in Europe, helping to make its platforms completely autonomous.

Thirdly, there are end markets, such as sustainable transport and process electrification. Here, we are seeing not only automation digitalization but electrification as well, with all three converging. It is interesting to note that electrification convergence towards sustainability is bringing new growth dimensions.

  • Contact us

    Submit your inquiry and we will contact you

    Contact us
Select region / language