15 Nov 2022

How ABB is leading the charge for a connected energy sector

ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered, and operated. Building on more than 130 years of excellence, ABB’s 105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation.

Particularly active in the global resources and energy sectors (including the oil and gas industry), ABB has achieved a strong reputation both in Australia and internationally for its comprehensive technology offering.

Cybersecurity and energy efficiency are two areas where ABB has really been able to spread its wings with regards to its oil and gas customer base over the past few years, especially considering the continued evolution of Australia’s oil and gas space.

We took some time to speak with ABB Australia Head of Energy Industries Abhinav Harikumar to discuss just how these key areas are contributing to the company’s continued growth.

Raising the shield for cybersecurity

As the workings of Australia’s energy industry continue to become more digitalised, robust cybersecurity has become essential practice, and ABB has risen to meet the change of pace.

Abhinav Harikumar joined the company in 2011 and leads ABB’s Energy Industries Business Line for Australia.

The industry has gone through many changes over the past few years with regards to cybersecurity, and there’s a broad spectrum of serious risks businesses have to consider, from trojans and data breaches to internal shutdowns. The increasing amount of data being leveraged by various energy industries such as oil & gas and renewables leads to an ever-increasing level of cybersecurity risks.

“It’s a hot topic at the moment – the most recent data breach from OPTUS is a great reminder of the threats of today”, he says. “Closer to oil and gas, there was the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in the US in 2021, which was the largest targeted cyberattack on an oil infrastructure.

“When you look around there’s so many cases emerging. Almost all our customers are responsible for critical infrastructure and essential services. So, when something like this happens it can have a huge effect on the wider economy on top of the economic losses on a particular company.”

“From ABB’s perspective, we have a tremendous amount of research and development on our side as well as global technical expertise which enables us to position ourselves as a trusted partner to address such concerns. ABB Ability™ provides services ranging from fingerprint and cybersecurity workplace (CSWP) right through to event monitoring and security operations.

For customers who have an ABB installation, the ABB Care program enables simplicity in engaging with ABB expertise and maximises the value of the installation.

Designed with user flexibility in mind, it contains multiple tiers that give companies the choice to tailor the required services including cybersecurity. The options are structured from customers who prefer to self-service their install base right through to customers who would like the full service undertaken by ABB.

This highly customisable level of service ensures that all types of users can be accommodated, simplifying service delivery, saving costs, and extending the life of assets. And for customers who choose ABB’s Complete Service model, this extends as far as lifecycle assessment and long-term planning with dedicated support managers.

“There are three main goals of CARE: that’s to protect, extend and transform the operations of our customers. This is done via our tremendous people, our focus on our customers, and our technology offering,” Abhinav says.

“We’ve tried to cater our ABB Care program to the varying strategies of our customers; we’re not in the business of one-time sales, we want to support our customers for life.”

Optimising for the future

ABB’s attention to delivering value for its clients isn’t just reserved for cybersecurity and service – it extends to all facets of the direction of the industry.

Just as automation and electrification have changed the operation of oil and gas facilities on a day-to-day level, so too has the changing relationship with energy and the climate.

ABB Ability™ OPTIMAX­® is ABB’s energy management solution software designed to decentralise energy resources by aggregating data into a single virtual power plant. The OPTIMAX suite, which can work in tandem with or independently of ABB Care, represents a new stage in efficiency for energy management, helping producers reduce energy costs, maximise profitability, and meet clean energy targets all at the same time.

“The whole goal of our OPTIMAX® suite is about increasing efficiency, optimising asset performance and maximizing value of energy exchange between consumers and suppliers which are now co-dependent,” Abhinav explains.“This includes forecasting energy demand and supply, including renewable energy.”

The ABB team is always enhancing its technologies in response to industry demand and OPTIMAX® is no exception. Recently – and with an eye to the future – ABB has introduced a green hydrogen-focused suite as the next expansion of the OPTIMAX® service that includes proactive energy optimisation of the electrolysis process (including real-time control of single electrolyser modules), and whole-production monitoring.

ABB – a sponsor of the World Hydrogen Congress and, more locally, Victoria’s HESC Project – has long supported technology, and this latest push, Abhinav says, is emblematic of ABB’s philosophy of consistent evolution and growing interconnection in the energy industry space.

“OPTIMAX’s hydrogen module is really geared towards developing that value chain and supports ABB’s mission to bring automation and electrification solutions to our customers to help decarbonize our society,” Abhinav says.

“It really does deliver value across the whole energy transfer. It’s really let us really get in on the ground floor as we prepare for the growth of the hydrogen economy as part of a cleaner energy future.

“Blue or green – we’re there to help our customers get to their net zero goals no matter what path that takes.”

To find out more about ABB, visit their website here.