ABB Aims to Enhance Control with New DCS and Electrical Control System Component

July 07, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino

ABB recently launched a new version of its distributed control system (DCS) with new upgrades to the I/O module and security features.

ABB has recently launched a new version of its distributed control system (DCS) solution. The ABB Ability System software has now been upgraded to version 800xA 6.1.1 to offer new I/O capabilities, added commissioning ability, and more security features. The solution is already available on ABB's website, together with a dedicated product sheet.


ABB Ability

The products in ABB's Ability line combine the company's deep domain expertise with connectivity and software innovation technologies.

The ABB Ability family counts a large portfolio of digital solutions designed to help organizations automate, optimize and future-proof their business strategy while maximizing resource efficiency to contribute to a low-carbon future. Beyond the Ability 800xA DCS, the line also features the Symphony Plus, an enhanced version of the tool designed to maximize plant efficiency through automation.


Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite dashboard. Image used courtesy of ABB


Additional tools in this family include ABB Ability Collaborative Operations and the Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite. These tools are designed to enable companies to improve operations, optimize asset management and help decision-making processes.


Ability System 800xA 6.1.1

Before delving into the specifics of the new update, it's important to note that the System 800xA is a DCS (Distributed Control System) and an Electrical Control System. This means the tool doubles as a safety system and a collaboration enabler. ABB designed this to improve engineering efficiency, operator performance, and asset utilization.

The new 6.1.1 introduces several new collaboration features, including faster commissioning of greenfield projects and brownfield expansions via an improved Ethernet I/O Field Kit featuring xStream Commissioning.


The new version of the software includes various collaborative features. Image used courtesy of ABB


Users can configure and test I/O in the field directly from their laptops without the need to access control application software or process controller hardware.

The technology also enables field I&C technicians to simultaneously perform automated loop checks of multiple smart devices and document all final results.

In addition, the latest version of Ability System introduces compatibility with Modular Orchestration, adding the possibility of importing Modular Type Packages (MTPs) and effectively making the solution agnostic in regards to vendor's automation platforms. 


Securing Control Systems

Securing industrial plants and control systems, in particular, is essential to prevent companies from becoming victims of cyberattacks. The last year has seen a particular increase in ransomware attacks targeting OT assets and control systems. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently published a new document in response to the phenomenon.

With the Ability System 800xA 6.1.1 upgrade, ABB has also increased the platform's cybersecurity capabilities, embedding within the software MS Windows 2019's latest patches and security updates.

ABB has confirmed ISA secure compliance has been achieved for PM866 and PM867, two of System 800xA's most popular process and safety controllers.

Open Platform Communications - Unified Architecture (OPC UA) connectivity has also been added to the AC 800M controller, increasing secure collaboration between systems and applications.


The AC 800M controller. Image used courtesy of ABB


The 800xA features a Publisher system extension allowing users to choose which data to stream to ABB Ability Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite, ensuring secure data transfer both on the edge or in the cloud.