ABB sees India as a key growth market with immense potential

  • Interviews
  • Dec 29,23
In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Jacques Mulbert, President of ABB Measurement & Analytics, explains why smart measurement & analytics solutions are the key for sustainability, operational efficiency and cost reduction
ABB sees India as a key growth market with immense potential

ABB’s Measurement & Analytics business unit is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of smart instrumentation and analysers. Leading this business globally is Jacques Mulbert, President of ABB Measurement & Analytics, which has more than 4,000 people spanning across 60 countries, with 24 manufacturing and integration locations. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Jacques Mulbert explains why smart measurement & analytics solutions are the key for sustainability, operational efficiency and cost reduction.

Could you please provide us an overview of ABB Measurement & Analytics and its business in India?
Measurement & Analytics Division is organised into three business lines namely Instrumentation, Analytical & Force Measurement Products & Solutions. We have some of the world-renowned brands in our portfolio and we have more than 100 years legacy of serving our customers globally. In India we have our presence since several decades.

ABB boasts a newly built Smart Instrumentation Factory and a dedicated System Integration Unit for analytical measurement solutions in India. These units play a pivotal role in providing cutting-edge products and solutions, particularly catering to the oil and gas, petrochemical, chemicals, water, power and various other segments. Through seamless integration, ABB delivers highly valued solutions that have left a mark on prestigious projects in India, including India’s one of the largest petrochemical complexes.

Acknowledging its contribution to the nation's industrial landscape, the company’s prowess extends to critical sectors like the metal and paper industries. With a strong commitment to supporting these industries, the company has become an integral part of projects involving major players such as Tata Steel and JSW. ABB's involvement spans over several years, demonstrating a sustained dedication to providing state-of-the-art solutions.

The company's expertise in areas like flatness control, thickness gauges, and tension measurement solutions has positioned it as a trusted partner in enhancing the operational efficiency of metal and paper industries. ABB's commitment to excellence is evident in its enduring partnerships and contributions to the success of renowned projects, solidifying its reputation as a key player in India's industrial transformation.

As ABB continues to pioneer advancements in analytical measurement solutions, its impact on critical industries reverberates across the nation. The collaborative efforts with industry leaders and the successful execution of projects underscore ABB's commitment to pushing the boundaries of technology, thus playing a vital role in shaping the future of India's industrial landscape.

What are the key challenges faced by industries (your customers) today? How are you helping them overcome some of these challenges?
The contemporary landscape of process industries is undergoing unprecedented challenges, demanding increased efficiency and a relentless pursuit of sustainability. Customers, across various sectors, are tasked with optimising their operations amidst tightening global regulations, which include rigorous standards even in countries like India. The recent surge in energy costs and raw material expenses compound the complexity, creating a constrained environment for industry players.

In response to these challenges, ABB is leveraging its technological prowess to empower plant operators to maximise the performance of their assets. Within the intricate web of process industries, characterised by a multitude of measuring points in each plant, ABB provides precision instruments with remarkable repeatability. The diversity of these measuring points reflects the amalgamation of old and new assets, a reality that introduces unique challenges for operators.

A significant hurdle faced by customers is the fragmentation of applications and data, residing in isolated silos. ABB's strategic response involves bridging the physical and digital realms to offer a holistic solution. An embodiment of this initiative is the imminent launch of ABB Ability SmartMaster, an advanced asset performance management platform. This innovation interconnects field devices and instruments, such as flow meters, temperature sensors, pressure transmitters, and level devices, to a digital framework.

Through this integration, ABB delivers a wealth of valuable information to its customers, presenting a comprehensive overview of the health status of each device. The transition from preventive to predictive maintenance becomes a reality, aiding customers in remotely managing their assets in the field. This not only reduces operational expenditures (OPEX) but also facilitates the optimization of processes, contributing to overall operational efficiency.

Pollution (air & water) is one of the major concerns in many Indian cities today. How are you helping industries to minimize their impact on the environment? 
In the throes of rapid urbanization, cities worldwide, including those in India, grapple with the consequences of environmental stressors on air and water quality. ABB, cognizant of this global challenge, stands at the forefront with technological solutions aimed at alleviating the pressures accompanying swift urban expansion. Stringent regulations, a response to the urgent need for cleaner air and water, underscore the critical nature of ABB's role in assisting cities.

Addressing air quality concerns, ABB's focus spans across diverse fronts. Notably, the company champions the cause of emission monitoring for industrial sites, recognizing the potential hazards associated with uncontrolled emissions. With a global footprint boasting in excess of 60,000 continuous emission monitoring systems in over 50 countries, ABB also has a significant presence in India, having a large installed base of these systems. Recent endeavours include the deployment of such a system in northern India for a waste-to-energy plant, exemplifying ABB's commitment to regulating and improving industrial emissions.

The battle for cleaner air extends to collaboration with innovative partners. A notable association is with GHGSat, a Canadian leader in detecting industrial gas leaks from space. ABB's analyzers, working in tandem with GHGSat's capabilities, have contributed to mitigating approximately 5.6 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. This collaboration highlights the expansive spectrum of ABB's solutions, from on-site emission monitoring to cutting-edge space-based initiatives.

For water solutions, we are working with the water utilities to allow them to have actionable data so they can improve their water distribution. And this is specifically true of the leaks. So we give them ways to measure very precisely the flow, the pressure and the level, which are the three main characteristics that allow to optimise the distribution networks and to minimise the water leakages.

With companies looking to make their manufacturing plants smarter (intelligent), how important will the role of measurement & analytics solutions be in fulfilling this objective?
At the forefront of environmental responsibility, ABB provides highly precise analysers empowering customers to measure greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane with unparalleled accuracy, down to parts per billion. This advanced technology plays a pivotal role in the business models of ABB's clients, particularly in manufacturing plants. Operating on a contractual basis, these plants enlist ABB's services to conduct periodic emissions measurements. 

The precision of ABB's analysers allows for meticulous scrutiny during each visit, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of greenhouse gas emissions. This business model not only aligns with evolving environmental regulations but also signifies a commitment to sustainability, as industries actively engage in monitoring and reducing their carbon footprint.

India is looking to encourage investment in green hydrogen and energy storage sectors. What kinds of opportunities does it present to you? How are you planning to tap these opportunities?
Navigating the landscape of hydrogen applications presents unique challenges, primarily rooted in the gas's flammability and its ability to permeate materials. ABB recognizes these hurdles and addresses them comprehensively. As hydrogen gains prominence, ensuring safety and scalability becomes paramount.

The first challenge revolves around preventing leaks, considering hydrogen's flammable nature. ABB employs precision in measurement using advanced metering & measurement. The second challenge, error’s induced due to permeability caused by hydrogen's molecular size, calls for innovative solutions. ABB has introduced H-Shield, a nano-coating applied to its Pressure Transmitters, ensuring resistance to permeability and avoids costly solutions in pressure measurement like gold coating of diaphragms. 

Beyond safety concerns, ABB delves into the intersection of hydrogen and sustainability. 
Carbon capture emerges as a pivotal aspect, reflecting the interconnected nature of hydrogen and environmental responsibility. ABB actively contributes to carbon capture solutions (CCS), exemplified by its involvement in the Northern Lights CCS project in Norway. Collaborating with major players such as Equinor, Shell and Total, ABB works on identifying contaminants in CO2 before storage. This tailored solution underscores ABB's commitment to advancing technologies that contribute to a more sustainable future.

As hydrogen gains momentum on the global stage, ABB positions itself at the forefront, not only mitigating challenges but also propelling innovations that align with the evolving landscape of clean and sustainable energy solutions. In essence, ABB's multifaceted approach ensures that as hydrogen takes centre stage, it does so safely, sustainably, and with a commitment to environmental stewardship.

What are your growth plans in India?
Looking ahead, ABB sees India as a key growth market with immense potential. With a commitment to double-digit growth in the coming years, the company envisions substantial investments in infrastructure, water, sanitation, and emissions monitoring projects. ABB's recent establishment of a smart manufacturing plant in Bangalore is just the beginning of its ambitious plans for India.

In a bid to harness local expertise, ABB aims to expand its research and development initiatives in India. The company envisions India not only as a market for its products and solutions but also as a hub for innovation and export. As ABB gears up for the next five years, its focus on digitalization, sustainability, and smart manufacturing positions the company as a significant contributor to India's industrial evolution.

(With inputs from Pranay Maniar)

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