ABB Customer World: Under the hood of xStream, ABB’s process control engineering methodology


HOUSTON -- ABB’s xStream engineering methodology is so named because it enables project teams to perform multiple (“x”) tasks simultaneously in parallel work “streams.” Representative of this concept is the Ethernet I/O Wizard in the company’s flagship control system 800xA. This tool can be used in the field to configure and functionally check Select I/O prior to—and independent of—delivery of the application.

To illustrate how this works, think of two simple work streams. One is the field work that can be done while the application work is being done in another location. In the field, the I/O cabinets can be delivered early in the project and later, just before commissioning occurs:

Step 1: Configure

On a particular cluster of Select I/O, the Select I/O Module base is populated with the Signal Conditioning Modules (SCMs) that match each channel’s I/O type. The technician then connects a mobile device (laptop or tablet with System 800xA configuration tools) to the Ethernet I/O Field Communications Interface (FCI). The Select I/O is automatically scanned, and that information combined with data from the I/O signal list as well as information contained in any HART devices that are present.

The system then creates a test configuration based on the I/O type detected to help in doing functional loop checks. For example, if there’s an analog input (AI) SCM connected to a HART transmitter, the Ethernet I/O Wizard automatically detects this, configures the I/O structure, and creates a temporary AI control module complete with faceplate and trend displays as well as device manager tools to aid the field engineer/technician in their testing efforts.

Step 2: Check

With the I/O configured and a test configuration running, smart and non-smart field equipment can be functionally checked in the field even as application engineering continues along a separate path at a different location. Users can also use System 800xA’s Extended Automation features such as Documentation Manager to generate and store field testing and verification documentation.

Step 3: Connect

Once functionality is checked, the established I/O structure can be imported into the master production system that contains the application code. Since they both have been configured using the same unique signal names, the software and hardware are digitally marshalled automatically—no mapping required. The full system—hardware and software—is now ready for final commissioning.

To learn more about xStream, be sure to attend the conference session on Tuesday (2:15pm, room 360F) or the hands-on training on Wednesday (10:00am, room 371D).


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