Tag Archives: abb

Towards the Automation Cloud: Architectural Challenges

I gave this talk at the GI-Fachgruppentreffen Architekturen 2013 at Fraunhofer IESE, Kaiserslautern on Monday: “Future industrial automation systems will execute a number of control and monitoring functions in central data centers. The cloud computing paradigm will reduce IT costs and enable small companies to flexibly automate production processes. Centralized control and monitoring across companies and domains will facilitate a novel smart ecosystem for industrial automation connecting both embedded devices and information systems. To realize this vision, a number of technical, economical, and social challenges need to be solved. This talk focuses on software architecture challenges for cloud-connected automation systems. It points out the architectural impact of critical non-functional properties, such as latency, security, and multi-tenancy.”

ABB’s history of MDE research

A couple of recent studies assessed the state of model-driven engineering (MDE) and the UML in practice. Hutchinson et al. (ICSE2011) noticed for example that a lot of MDE success is actually hidden and that MDE adoption is often rather driven by evangelists than hard business considerations. Petre (ICSE2013) focused on the UML and found for 50 software professionals that 70 percent do not use the UML. Unfortunately, most of the studies known to me have some methodical flaws, such as improper selection of the sample population. Maybe it is time for a systematic review and comparison of all the available empirical studies and approaches in industry?

ABB uses model-driven approaches in various areas, e.g., architecture documentation, code generation for PLC software, simulation, and even testing. Also, ABB Corporate Research has quite some history of experimenting with model-driven techniques:

  • platform-independent model and code generation with ArcStyler, based on the MDA initiative (Interactive Objects success story, 2002)
  • UML models to describe higher-level design for safety critical embedded systems (Empirical Software Engineering Journal, 2006)
  • work on the OPC UA information model (Springer Book, 2009)
  • model-based testing of embedded systems (EU-Project D-MINT, 2010)
  • program transformation with srcML (ICSM, 2011)
  • reliability prediction based on Markov Models (ISSRE, 2010)
  • performance prediction for an industrial control system, based on the Eclipse modeling framework (ICSE, EU-Project Q-ImPrESS, 2011)
  • DSL for constructing OPC UA Queries and Event Filters (ECMFA, 2012)
  • model transformations for analytical purposes (MASCOTS 2012ICPE 2013)
  • model-based design space exploration for distributed systems (ICPE, 2012)

Current research in this area concerns for example architecture decision modeling (collaboration project with University of Groningen) or using IEC 61499 for modeling control logic.


IEEE names ABB technologies among the 11 most important of the decade

Along with smartphones and digital photography, FACTS has been named among the top 11 technologies of the decade by the IEEE. The 11 technologies named in the list include smartphones, social networking, voice over IP, LED lighting, cloud computing, multicore CPUs, digital photography, drone aircraft, class-D audio and planetary rovers. FACTS (flexible AC transmission systems) also finds a place in this illustrious list. FACTS is a family of technologies that ABB pioneered and has continuously developed over the past 60 years.

“With these technologies ABB can increase the capacity of existing lines by as much as 50 percent, reduce electrical losses in long distance power transfer and relieve grid congestion and transmission bottlenecks that prevent the flow of electricity,” said Ingela Hålling, head of FACTS within the Grid Systems business of the Power Systems division. “FACTS technologies can also help to minimize the risk of blackouts, and facilitate the integration of intermittent types of energy by rapidly countering voltage fluctuations or by storing large amounts of surplus power until it is needed.”

ABB has delivered around 800 FACTS installations worldwide, which is more than half the world total.

ABB’s FRIDA Offers Glimpse of Future Factory Robots

“This headless, two-armed robot may be tomorrow’s factory worker. Its name is FRIDA, and it’s a creation of ABB, the Swiss power and automation giant, which introduced it early this month at the Hannover trade show, Europe’s largest industrial fair…”