ABB: Automation Industry and Operation of Cranes

ABB is a technology leader that is driving the digital transformation of industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB has four customer-focused, globally leading businesses: Electrification,
Industrial Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.


The world-leading supplier of container handling and bulk handling cranes

ABB has been in the crane business since 1897 and is now the world’s leading supplier of automation and electrical systems for container handling and bulk handling cranes. In a typical modern terminal, the containers are unloaded by a ship-to-shore crane onto the dock (see Figure 1.3), where vehicles transport them to a huge stacking yard. There, automatic rail-mounted gantry cranes stack them in the required position, ready to load onto a truck or rail wagon. ABB supplies the automation and electrical systems that power and automate the cranes. Thousands of containers are moved in this way every day in a modern container terminal. Each move has to be performed quickly and to the right destination with great precision and without interfering with other containers, cranes or vehicles.

ABB crane safety solutions ensure application safe state and fast restarting and the same software is used for drive, PLC, and safety system configuration.

VeriDevOps answers the challenge

ABB Marine & Ports design implement and commission automation solutions for container cranes in ports. These cranes can be fully autonomous and co-work in systems to load boats, self-driving trucks and trains in a highly intensive logistic system. The development process is lean and cost-efficient with a standard software platform as a base on top of the ABB AS500 PLC system, but with higher demands on flexible and maintainable software solutions also for safety functions and reducing the time for commissioning on real cranes to go operational requires from VeriDevOps new innovations in the development process.

For safety functions, requirements are modeled to sequence diagrams as a part of the software design phase. The programming language for system control and supervision is IEC 61161-3 function block diagrams and structured text, and functions with advanced
calculation algorithms, like image analysis, are programmed in C/C++. The typical task cycle is 100ms but some VeriDevOps 12/70 control functions execute as fast as 10ms.


One of the goals of ABB in VeriDevOps is to shorten the CI/CD cycles in DevOps by modeling and testing in simulation of a crane system in order to be able to perform tests at the developer’s desk environment before commissioning to reduce time on site but also being able to test functionality, including the safety and security aspects, before the actual crane, is manufactured.

By using VeriDevops technologies, requirements for new or enhanced functionality of the standard platform has to be written in such a way that they are maintainable for future extensions but also fittest cases for software module testing and overall regression test. A VeriDevOps toolchain for requirement specification analysis should support the writing of the requirement but also make them fit for automated testing and select test cases best fit for simulation and on-site commissioning regression tests to optimize the efficiency with the test opportunities at hand. Requirement models and simulation models produced in VeriDevOps will offer a fast track to efficient, safe, and secure crane operations for both remote and cabin-based crane operation in an authentic environment - as close to real crane operation and realistic conditions as it is possible.

Like every other digital industry, cranes are exposed to safety hazards and security threats that are highly critical and can result in a downtime of days or weeks. However, the threats that threaten to break the maritime supply chain and delay cargo delivery carry additional risks. Infected systems can compromise navigation or propulsion, threatening ship safety as well as the marine environment. In VeriDevOps we aim to improve our testing practices as well as security methodologies for risk mitigation and risk management strategy that needs to
cover people, processes, and technologies that face fast-changing hazards and threats.