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"It is very important to have this common technical language that standardization offers. Our corporate currency is dollars, our corporate language is poor English and our corporate technical language is, to some extent, IEC standards...

It is estimated that documentation accounts for 20 to 30 percent of a project’s overall costs."

 
 

The value of documentation standards

Asea Brown Boveri (ABB)

ABB's R&D covers core electrical engineering such as insulation, magnetic materials, materials, mechanics and information technology. The latter means embedded systems, control, simulation and so forth, such as if found in robots (control) and gas turbine development (simulation). Simulation is a very important tool for ABB's research and using IT helps to reduce time and costs.

ABB’s deliverables involve a great deal of mechanics, materials and embedded IT. The conglomerate has roughly 1 000 companies all over the world and says, it is very important to have the common technical language that standardization offers. “Our corporate currency is dollars, our corporate language is poor English and our corporate technical language is, to some extent, IEC standards."

It is estimated that documentation accounts for 20 to 30 percent of a project’s overall costs. Thus, when you look at the number of different countries where ABB offices are located, and the number of different nationalities that could potentially contribute to any single project, the value of standardized documentation becomes clear: savings can be measured in time and therefore in lower overall costs.

"It’s a very important internal competitive factor to have standardization in our company" ABB says. "The most important advantage of standards is the external one: towards the customer. Since we are moving into a new competitive environment, we are developing from supplying bits and pieces of systems to our customers, to global operations and maintenance or, what you might call ‘total delivery’. You can have total delivery where the bits and pieces come not only from many companies in one country, but also companies in other countries."

This means that the customer is less and less involved in details and is now buying functions. In practical terms, this means a power utility which is no longer state-owned and whose reason for doing business is to supply electrical power to its customers, does not want to be so concerned about maintaining the mechanical aspects of its production and so has reduced the size of its maintenance department. The result is that ABB must now offer these services to its customers. With total delivery, ABB assures its customer that it will build and maintain the installation, leaving the utility company free to look after marketing its product and focusing on customers.

 
 
 
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