The Autonomous Industrial Plant – Future of Process Engineering, Operations and Maintenance

Thomas Gamer1, Mario Hoernicke2, Benjamin Kloepper3, Reinhard Bauer1, Alf J. Isaksson4

  • 1ABB Corporate Research
  • 2ABB AG Corporate Research, Ladenburg, Germany
  • 3ABB AG, Corporate Research
  • 4ABB

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Today media report almost daily about new advances in self-driving cars and artificial intelligence. For autonomous driving there are already established standards with levels from 0 to 5 describing the steps from complete manual operation to fully autonomous driving. While many people - and of course in particular the automotive industry - believe fully self-driving cars are feasible in the near future one may ask how applicable this is in our domain? Is it realistic to aim towards a fully autonomous chemical plant? What do we even mean by an autonomous plant?

This talk will make an effort in defining levels of autonomy for a process industry. However, when the automotive standard focuses completely on operation of the car, it is for process and manufacturing industry equally important to take steps towards also autonomous engineering and autonomous maintenance. We will illustrate steps towards higher levels of autonomy by recent examples from different industrial applications.

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