ABB Energy Industries’ India, Middle East & Africa senior vice president – hub manager Christian Cravedi and vice president, hub business line digital manager Ronan O’Sullivan speak to Pipeline Magazine’s Nadia Saleem about strategies that are supporting the energy world’s shift towards a sustainable, digital future
How is ABB supporting a step change in the development and delivery of the global energy system?
Cravedi: Our approach is through a strong value chain with a value proposition, which is digital as well as sustainable.
We are very much focused on the technology part of the full chain with the latest solutions and services across the chain. At ABB, we are in front of the challenge of integrating all these different technologies into a single platform to be digitally enabled. As we enter a digital environment, we focus on the 3S – to be much safer, smarter in our solutions, and more sustainable.
Our sustainable solutions are very much driven by the digital value proposition and long-term partnerships.
Usually, sustainability is about the environment, but when we talk about this region, we enter discussions about in-country-value (ICV) development.
The ICV sustainability process means to supply as much as we can from the country for the country and making sustainable the national’s employment.
Through the value chain of ABB, which is very much focused on long-term partnership, ABB has a different approach compared to that of a typical technology provider. Whatever we do in terms of adding value, it is to make it sustainable. While EPC developers come in, develop and move on to the next job – this is not going to create sustainable Emiratisation environment.
O’Sullivan: As we transition into a digital perspective on how we are addressing sustainability globally: it is necessity from the customer first and foremost. This poses the question of how can we extend the lifecycle of their existing equipment and what we can do from a digital prescriptive and enhance how their equipment is running.
We’re really applying newer technology now in order to have the whole value chain from supply to demand as well as long-term sustainability as well as reliability. This is how we see digital fitting into our industry, which is oil, gas, chemical, power and water.
What strategy do you use to capture regional growth and secure your position in the years ahead?
Cravedi: ABB always has a global strategy but there is also local strategy - ABB is a global company, acting very much into local environment. This is the reason why we have been in the UAE for 30 years, acting locally.
In the UAE, where ADNOC wants to drive the market, this is aligned with ABB’s value proposition as well as the execution model. We are very much about digital - doing more with less but do it even better and more sustainably.
Being local is extremely embedded into our DNA and localisation is what markets in this region are asking for. The demands of the market have been matching our value proposition and our execution, because that is how we established our business here. ICV for us doesn’t generate new contribution but a confirmation that our model is fit for this.
How is the energy transition and digital transformation playing out for ABB?
Cravedi: ABB is always a moving company and we are readjusting and tuning our organisation to support the market demand. We created a new business line 10 years ago called Energy Industries – this is matching the current demand in terms of the energy revolution within oil, gas, chemicals, power and water.
We are going to move into something more sustainable in terms of energy, which doesn’t mean there will be no hydrocarbon but it’s going to be much more fluid energy with integration between oil, gas, and power sector. This is going to be a full chain of value, and ABB has had that approach from the very beginning.
Historically, ABB was a pioneer in technology, but also in seeing how the trend of the market is going in order to be aligned with it.
Our customers are basically stretching their own value chain, we’ve seen this in Saudi Arabia, where from a typical refinery, the project plans evolved into a multi-product refining complex. So all the flexibility of logistics has to be built in so your resources are utilised in the best way.
Today, we can fully showcase the ABB-enabled solutions in Sadara, the biggest petrochemical complex ever built in one single shot. The next step is to make it digital.
O’Sullivan: From a technology standpoint, we’ve been pioneers and innovators of technology for many centuries now. Where we’re focused now is on supporting companies that were traditionally oil and gas but are now becoming energy companies and even buyers of electricity.
With the growth of solar and wind in the mix of renewable energy into the whole value chain, we look at how we take our technology and give visibility over that entire value chain of supply and demand.
As the energy mix grows, we will be able to supply the right technology right when it’s needed. We’re currently having small pilots of these technologies.
Because companies are evolving in their energy sources as well, this is what we’re seeing as our new ABB ability, which is our overall platform, our hardware and software connectivity. So when the time comes for this added connectivity source, we will be ready to service our customers.
You briefly mentioned Sadara – can you also speak about your new models where solutions are integrated and how this plays a role in the shift towards digitalisation?
O’Sullivan: What we find is demand from our customers around five pillars. Safety and cyber security is the primary and most focus-on pillar of all – this is where we have developed solutions that take into account the overall safety of the facility as well as multiple facilities from a human safety aspect as well as human safety aspect.
Then we move into sustainability and reliability, where asset performance management comes into play. There is a big demand from the market and all of our users on how to extend the lifecycle on all existing equipment and how to reduce cost from unplanned shutdowns for example.
Us being able to provide them technology which give insight into their equipment, plan for the right outages as well as suggest the right repair measures around types of equipment.
Energy management is another big pillar for us – now there is renewable energy coming into the mix of traditional energy markets - we look at how we can manage the supply and demand from an energy perspective.
Then we get into simulation and digital twin as another pillar. This is really enabling knowledge from the retiring workforce into the new workforce. There was a major gap for engineering students wanting to go down that path, which is being bridged by the transferring of knowledge and training through the digital twin and simulation.
Lastly, we have operational management, where we giving insight into how companies are running their operations and connecting IT with OT environment, being able to integrate the running facilities as well as any type demand coming in from ERP systems, being able to generate KPI and looking at ways to optimise their entire processes – not only on running facilities but also how they are managing supply and demand to their customers, so trying to give them an advantage with our technology.