Distributed Control Systems

Making a world of difference with automation




For more than a century, automation systems have been central to empowering industries that provide the basic building blocks of our everyday lives – energy, power, water, metals, minerals, chemicals, and transportation – to scale to the needs of a growing population. And for more than 40 years, ABB has built and maintained a leadership position in Distributed Control Systems (DCS) that are at the heart of these largest and most critical operations on our planet. How? By preserving its customers’ investments while providing new capabilities and accelerating innovation to meet ever-changing demands. This paper outlines ABB’s vision to continue to make a world of difference for process automation users for decades to come.


Addressing increasing unpredictability

Producing profitably while striving towards greater sustainability is a top priority, especially for energy- and raw-material-intense industries. Businesses must be agile in producing the goods to meet market demands while mitigating the impacts of fluctuating energy prices, disrupted supply chains and higher compliance costs. Fresh thinking on the design and application of control systems that are able to resolve issues through data analysis, will help address unpredictability.

Enabling energy transition

For many producers, key action is to electrify processes formerly powered by combustion and fossil fuels, to enable the transition to green energy sources. Integrated process and electrical control and power management are key to increasing energy efficiency of operations, and reliably incorporating renewable energy sources in the energy mix. Digital technologies will furthermore allow experts to cost-effectively design and deploy such integrated systems for efficiency, ease-of-use and further energy optimization.


Evolving production needs

To maximize economies of scale, many plants today produce single commodities. At the same time, demand for customization drives smaller, specialized plants that are close to the customer. Automation must scale to address these varying needs through.

Adapting to next-generation workforce


The generation joining the workforce wants all the familiar benefits of digitalization, yet will not want to sacrifice the reliability, availability and security that current systems provide. Suppliers must continue to offer these attributes while employing new ways to apply the digital knowledge of today’s workers. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will help to identify and mitigate production interruptions, and support remote, autonomous operations. Workers will spend less time troubleshooting in physical environments and more time addressing issues remotely.


Driving digital transformation

Automation is a significant asset base for producers, often the digital core of the business. As digitalization progresses, operational and information technology will converge, allowing value-adding applications to run on the edge or in the cloud.

The control system of tomorrow will leverage new business models that facilitate change while conforming to workplace expectations. “Automation-as-a-service” with readily accessible and selectable applications will provide options alongside traditional business models.

Maximizing innovation while preserving continuity

To meet these challenges, suppliers must assure existing users of their systems’ continuity, while innovating toward flexibility, adapting to changing markets and meeting regulatory requirements.

ABB will separate automation into an evergreen robust core served by a modular architecture, prioritizing real-time response; with an extended, digitally-enabled environment that securely connects to IoT, and enhances the collaboration of people, systems and equipment.

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