ABB recently unveiled its new South African Digital Solutions Centre, which aims to help companies across industries to overcome their most pressing technology and digitalisation challenges.

The centre, at ABB’s Longmeadow facility in Johannesburg, gives customers in the energy, mining and minerals resources, manufacturing, process industries, transportation and utilities sectors the opportunity to co-develop solutions that take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalisation to unlock lasting business value.

“The new centre is the only one of its kind in Africa and represents a significant commitment to South Africa and the wider region as growth markets and an important customer base,” said John Manuell, local division manager for process industries, ABB South Africa. “Most industries and sectors are going through a rapid transformation that is being enabled by digital technologies. The South African Digital Solutions Centre strengthens our capacity to serve and support customers with technologies and capabilities that are key to the digital transformation of their operations.”

It will help customers to take major leaps in productivity and efficiency, driving competitiveness, quality, and security, through smart grid technology, electrification of all points of energy consumption and advanced automation solutions. It offers customers the ability to experience ABB’s digital solutions, advanced automation and 24/7 control room solutions in a fully equipped environment, encountering and solving challenging real-life scenarios. Once customers understand their business priorities and challenges, the centre allows them to experience how ABB Ability solutions can unlock value across their entire value chain.

Remote support

Remote support is going to be a major feature, with ABB Ability Remote Insights for service allowing customers to remotely connect with ABB’s global experts using a laptop, tablet or mobile. This will help businesses save on maintenance costs, reduce downtime and increase safety in their operations. Remote access platform services allow experts to access plant data remotely to analyse equipment and plant behaviour and recommend corrective actions.

Another focus is what ABB calls ‘the control room of the future’. Here, clients can actively participate in designing their control room and experience how the space will be utilised in virtual reality before it is even constructed or delivered on site. “Studies indicate that up to 40 percent of unplanned downtime can be associated with operator error. This is why it is crucial to create an optimal environment that provides the necessary information and tools, putting the operator in focus,” said Manuell.

The centre’s ‘mine of the future’ will be of particular interest to the country’s mining industry. McKinsey estimates that mine digitalisation could save $373 billion globally by 2025 by raising productivity, reducing waste and keeping mines safe. The digital solutions presented at the centre are embedded under the ABB Ability MineOptimize portfolio, which provides mine operators with a suite of digitally connected solutions, products and collaborative services, to unify and optimize the lifecycle of a mine and ensure that the right people have the right information at the right time. Through the recently launched ABB Ability eMine portfolio, ABB brings together electrification, automation and digital technology like no other company. By digitally connecting all solutions, they can be monitored and controlled to optimize operations and energy usage in real time. The digital offering for Ability eMine is focused around four pillars; power and process control, power and energy management, electrical asset performance management; mine operations management.

The centre, which will be live virtually for the first month of its operation, from the 10th of September to the 8th of October, will also offer a range of webinars and workshops designed to reveal the digital maturity level of an organisation, either at site or enterprise level. On-site visits are available to a limited number of customers at a time in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The most intensive of these are the Co-Creation Workshops, a workshop format ranging from one to four hours up to up to five days. In these workshops, once a customer’s digital maturity is established, ideas and requirements are outlined and further specified, tested and evaluated. ABB then works with the customer to define follow-up plans as a deliverable.

Shiven Sukraj, ABB’s local division manager for energy industries in South Africa explained that the centre was developed for our customers to bring collaboration and co-creation to new levels. “ABB’s technologies are driving industrial productivity and contributing to South Africa’s innovation ecosystem in so many ways. Through deeper collaboration with customers and partners, we want to develop powerful solutions that add measurable business value and do our part to drive South Africa into the digital economy,” Sukraj concluded.

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