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ABB unveils latest upgrade to DCS Freelance for process industries

28 November 2018

Security is a top priority in the age of Industry 4.0 and enhanced security is one of a range of new features and benefits included in Freelance 2019.

Originally launched in 1994, Freelance is ABB’s cost-effective distributed control system (DCS) solution for process industries. It combines the advantages of a DCS with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and is characterised by ease of use, scalability, flexibility and reliability. Freelance 2019 is the latest version of the DCS.

The Freelance suite of solutions comprises Freelance Operations for use at operator level, a scalable process level option, and Freelance Engineering which is used to configure and commission the system including the operator interface. The new versionprovides significant improvements throughout the complete system.

New features and benefits of Freelance 2019

Improved usability: Freelance 2019 provides a significant increase in efficiency and usability for its Operations and Engineering solution by adding advanced navigation, filter and sort functionality. The user experience has been improved with a new, very modern UI.

Scalable: A new controller, PM 904F, expands the Freelance AC 900F controller family in the upper range, supporting four communication interfaces. It also provides more application memory and enables the reservation of specific memory. As for all Freelance controllers user applications are 100 percent runtime-compatible which also enables smooth upgrade opportunities.

More connectivity: Up to four monitors can now be connected to a single operator workplace. The available display types per monitor, as well as the arrangements of the monitors, are easily configured and fulfil the typical requirements for occupational safety and operator effectiveness. 

Enhanced security: Freelance provides an additional alternative to its user management capabilities known as “Security Lock” by a solution called “Extended User Management”. This new option makes use of Windows user accounts, supporting both local and domain accounts. As a result typical requests for options such as central password management, rules for password complexity, or password aging can be fulfilled. 

Compatibility: Freelance 2019 can run on Windows 10 and Windows 7 in the same system architecture. This allows customers to do a step-wise upgrade to modern IT infrastructure which helps in reducing maintenance costs.

“Being user-friendly, cost-effective and robust has already made Freelance a popular choice for businesses of process industries in more than 100 countries worldwide. Its flexibility and extensive reach are demonstrated by the 1000s of installations of the solution in industries,” said Ingo Mauritz, Global Product Line Manager for Freelance at ABB. 

“Wacker Chemie in Germany uses Freelance with Freelance Operations as the tool to efficiently operate and monitor their ketene plant. In China, Freelance provided uniform configuration of field devices online at YunNan HongTa DianXI Cement obtaining the maximum automation with minimum engineering. Freelance was also integral to the modernisation of Glinojeck, a leading European sugar producer and was at the centre of one of the most sophisticated reverse osmosis desalination projects in the Middle East,” added Mauritz.

As in earlier versions of Freelance customers have the option of staying automatically up-to-date by subscribing to the Automation Sentinel life cycle program by, for example, providing automatic cyber security patches. 

Available in a wide range of languages, Freelance takes five minutes to install on any standard computer and can easily be self-learned. The intuitive operator interface enables easy operation and diagnosis of the entire system and being just one file it is easy to back up as the entire application fits on a small memory stick. 

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