ABB has opened its new South African Digital Solutions Centre, which aims to help companies across industries to overcome their most pressing technology and digitalisation challenges.

The centre, at ABB’s Longmeadow facility in Johannesburg, gives customers in the energy, mining and minerals resources, manufacturing, process industries, transportation and utilities sectors the opportunity to co-develop solutions that take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalisation to unlock lasting business value.

“The new centre is the only one of its kind in Africa and represents a significant commitment to South Africa and the wider region as growth markets and an important customer base,” says John Manuell, local division manager for process industries at ABB South Africa. “Most industries and sectors are going through a rapid transformation that is being enabled by digital technologies. The South African Digital Solutions Centre strengthens our capacity to serve and support customers with technologies and capabilities that are key to the digital transformation of their operations.”

It will help customers to take major leaps in productivity and efficiency, driving competitiveness, quality, and security, through smart grid technology, electrification of all points of energy consumption and advanced automation solutions. It offers customers the ability to experience ABB’s digital solutions, advanced automation and 24/7 control room solutions in a fully equipped environment, encountering and solving challenging real-life scenarios. Once customers understand their business priorities and challenges, the centre allows them to experience how ABB Ability solutions can unlock value across their entire value chain.

Another focus is what ABB calls ‘the control room of the future’. Here, clients can actively participate in designing their control room and experience how the space will be utilised in virtual reality before it is even constructed or delivered on site. “Studies indicate that up to 40 percent of unplanned downtime can be associated with operator error. This is why it is crucial to create an optimal environment that provides the necessary information and tools, putting the operator in focus,” said Manuell.

The centre’s ‘mine of the future’ will be of particular interest to the country’s mining industry.

McKinsey estimates that mine digitalisation could save $373-billion globally by 2025 by raising productivity, reducing waste and keeping mines safe. The digital solutions presented at the centre are embedded under the ABB Ability MineOptimize portfolio, which provides mine operators with a suite of digitally connected solutions, products and collaborative services, to unify and optimise the lifecycle of a mine and ensure that the right people have the right information at the right time.

The centre, which will be live virtually for the first month of its operation, from 10 September to 8 October, will also offer a range of webinars and workshops designed to reveal the digital maturity level of an organisation, either at site or enterprise level.

The most intensive of these are the Co-Creation Workshops, a workshop format ranging from one to four hours up to up to five days. In these workshops, once a customer’s digital maturity is established, ideas and requirements are outlined and further specified, tested and evaluated. ABB then works with the customer to define follow-up plans as a deliverable.

“This centre was developed for our customers to bring collaboration and co-creation to new levels,” said Shiven Sukraj, Local Division Manager for Energy Industries, South Africa. “ABB’s technologies are driving industrial productivity and contributing to South Africa’s innovation ecosystem in so many ways. Through deeper collaboration with customers and partners, we want to develop powerful solutions that add measurable business value and do our part to drive South Africa into the digital economy.”