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Flexible Communication Module for Future Generations

Future-proofing and backwards compatibility were key words when ABB gave Prevas the task of developing a completely new communication module to be used in two generations of control systems for the process industry.

Assignment: Communication Module 

As one of the world´s leading suppliers of systems for efficient and secure automation, control, and surveillance of industrial and process plants, product range continuity is of the utmost importance to ABB. Across the world, a large number of industries are entirely dependent upon a well-functioning operation, even when parts of the control system need to be upgraded.

ABB faced one such challenge, to modernize and keep existing and future users in mind, when they decided to produce an entirely new version of a so-called real time accelerator (RTA). The unit acts as protocol translator between the software on the operator´s work station and the Masterbus 300 based control network connected to the target systems.

Previous generations have been manufactured as expansion cards for assembly in Unix or Windows-based work stations. In order to increase flexibility and future compatibility for a long lifecycle, ABB decided that the next generation´s communication module would be a free-standing unit based on the Ethernet and TCP/IP standard protocols.

What we took on board in the development was to conduct an implementation so that the interface of the products that will use the module does not have to be modified in any way by existing customers. This put high technical demands on the software side of the computer.

We began by developing a completely redesigned hardware architecture. When it was finished, we moved the existing functionality to the new platform, all to ensure the required backwards compatibility.

Katarina Wiklund, Project Manager at ABB, explains, “A lot of skills, not just purely technical ones, are required to get a project this complex to work. Prevas have shown that they can cope will all the elements, and have kept the whole thing together and delivered on time."

The project is a good example of the application of ABB's customer-focused product life cycle in practice. It offers existing customers a migration path to modern technologies and new customers a solution with long life.

Do you want to know more about this project or find out what Prevas can do for you, please contact us.

Henrik Grunditz, e-mail

Communication Module ABB

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