Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your role with ABB?
Much of my experience and knowledge has been developed in the oil and gas sector, where I have been working for the past 35 years of my business life.
Since September 2012 I have been assigned to lead the Process Automation Division at ABB Egypt, with interim responsibility of Central Africa Countries Cluster. Prior to coming to Egypt I held the same position in Libya for some years prior to the recent revolution.
There is a long history of collaboration between Italy, which is my homeland, and Egypt, close cooperation between ABB divisions in Italy and Egypt have been in place for a long time. As I have been covering export sales assignments with varying levels of responsibility at ABB Italy, I’ve had the privilege of working with the oil and gas sector in Egypt since the 1990’s.
Q: What is ABB’s role in the oil and gas sector?
ABB pursues the oil and gas market covering power and process cycle areas, supply system solutions, products and services. In other words, we provide our customers with a single stop shop. ABB acts as a partner for its customer. We find answers and solutions to all their operational needs.
Our usual supply includes comprehensive integrated solutions of automation and/or electrification products. Our product offering is complemented with engineering, installation, commissioning and after sales services.
Our after sales service offerings consist of consultation and assistance to engineering, operations and maintenance departments, product diagnostic services, on- site and by remote connection supervision and maintenance, provision of spare parts, repair, and training at customer sites as well as at our facilities in Egypt and abroad.
From our facilities in Egypt, we serve the foreign and domestic markets, both in the upstream and downstream domains, including refinery and petrochemical facilities.
We are present in the domestic sector with a remarkable installed base at more than 130 sites. We serve all the major players in the Egyptian oil and gas market.
Q: Can you tell me about ABB’s operations in Egypt?
ABB has been present in Egypt since 1926, and started its local facilities in 1979. ABB offers a wide range of products and services in Egypt and Central Africa with highly qualified expertise in power and automation engineering, providing solutions for secure energy efficient generation, transmission and distribution.
ABB’s portfolio ranges from light switches to robots for painting cars and packing food, and from huge electrical transformers to control systems that manage entire power networks and processes at factories.
ABB in Egypt has over 1,800 employees. We have five factories spread over 100,000 square meters in 10th of Ramadan City, an export assembly factory in Nasr City, a regional center and machines service workshop in Al Obour City. We also have a regional service center for turbo-systems in Suez and ABB University based at our Cairo headquarters. In addition to our headquarters in Cairo, we also have a branch in Alexandria.
Q: What are the challenges and benefits of operating your manufacturing facilities in Egypt?
We are committed to the highest standards of quality, based on ABB worldwide benchmarks. We offer up-to-date solutions in all sectors whilst providing the most stringent requirements of performance and reliability.
With our factories in the country we have the opportunity to be closer and better connected to our customer needs at all phases of our production and delivery cycles. Our vast reservoir of local skilled personnel, as well as the possibility to provide after sales services sourced from Egypt allows ABB to answer customers’ needs with promptness and efficiency at all times.
Q: How has ABB continued operations during periods of unrest?
From a security point of view, luckily we have had no serious issues, as we took all the necessary precautions.
At our ABB Headquarters in Zurich as well as at all the countries where ABB group operates, dedicated security management teams implement standard security procedures, including communication to employees, organization of travels along specific indications and precautions, etc., that are strictly adhered to by all employees.
The main task of ABB’s security management team is to monitor the actual security conditions in the countries where ABB operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round, and provide suitable advice. Thanks to these precautions, ABB in Egypt suffered very little disruption.
During the recent crisis ABB demonstrated flexibility in fully catering to its customer needs. We regard this as very important for ABB’s commitment to the Country Industry Sector, since we serve strategic industries such as energy and power distribution. As a matter of fact, ABB is largely present at Egyptian gas and oil extraction sites, treatment facilities and in transportation, which are vital to the Egyptian economy. It is very important for ABB to strategically navigate domestic issues as part of our commitment to consistent and reliable support for our customers. I must personally pay gratitude to ABB teams for being available during the times of crisis.
Q: What challenges has ABB faced in terms of delayed payments?
One of the impacts of the crisis is the shortness of liquidity and financing. In fact we are suffering as much as all other industry players due to delayed payments. Luckily our company is well diversified with active projects both regionally and globally, which grants ABB in Egypt a certain degree of latitude. Such a possibility allows us to remain active in the Egyptian market, in which we are not facing cancellations of tenders but we are experiencing delays and postponements.
Q: From your own point of view, what do you think the Egyptian government could do to increase development?
Personally, I think that investments should be maintained in strategic sectors, such as power, oil and gas. There are extensive new explorations in the Western Desert, as well as other new fields. This is one sector where investment should be maintained and improved. Additionally, investments should be made to develop refining capacity and petrochemical projects; the power sector too, as you know everything is connected.
Q: Can you tell me about ABB’s training and education programs?
We have a comprehensive program of training offered by the ABB University, which provides a wide variety of courses for all ABB customer needs.
ABB strives to provide first-class service and our aim is to provide customers with the ability to exploit the highest performance out of the products ABB supplies. In addition to our regular training courses addressing all sectors of production, engineering, maintenance and operations, we offer tailor made training programs catering to all customer needs.
Training is a key element in ABB offerings since we supply high technology products, we must provide corresponding high levels of training.
Q: How does ABB factor health and safety into your programs?
Health and safety is regarded with utmost consideration at ABB Group. As a matter of fact, health and safety always comes first in our key performance indicators (KPI). For example, at all the management meetings we start with OHS KPI before financial and production KPI’s.
Of course health and safety issues are strictly considered when we perform our delivery to customers. Likewise, we provide guidance to our customers about suitable measures to follow in order to safeguard their safety while using our products and systems.
In Egypt we have had a remarkable record of zero injuries and fatalities for the past couple of years, as all the safety conditions at our manufacturing facilities, as well as site activities are closely monitored. We have safety managers within each division whose primary duty is to make site inspections in order to check that safety measures are in place, and to provide management with extensive reports on OHS status.
ABB takes a preventive approach in health and safety matters. Whenever anything happens elsewhere (i.e. at facilities in other countries also), the fact is broadcasted to all the units in all countries, so that measures can be undertaken to prevent similar cases.
Q: What products are you trying to push in the market?
ABB has a wide portfolio of key products, solutions and service offerings addressing the strategic aspects of process and manufacturing in all industries, as well as utilities such as power production and distribution.
Talking about automation, ABB’s main cornerstone product is our Extended Automation System 800xA, which provides integrated solutions of process and safety control, achieving integrated control and safety systems (ICSS) with high performance. The system offers remarkable features of integration with electrification subsystems, field instrumentation, analytics, etc., that are all in line with state of the art worldwide standards.
ABB has integrated seamless solutions of DCS and ESD, SIL 3 with simple, triple and quad redundant configurations, which gives the utmost benefit to our customers. ABB is one supplier for all needs, one technology, one “cockpit” to operators in the control room, with our main focus on operator effectiveness.
As a matter of fact, the value of integration is to provide a unique technology and a collaborative environment with a unique human machine interface (HMI) to have complete control from one platform location, to easily run the process, optimize assets and manage both preventive and corrective maintenance.
For essential automation needs, ABB’s automation portfolio is completed with an additional range of DCS (freelance), PLC and SCADA solutions (RTUs 560s, ScadaVantage Software, etc.), Compact Product Suite, Stand-Alone Process Recorders and Controllers, which suit various industry sectors’ needs, including oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, metal, pulp and paper and water industries.
As said, ABB offerings is a one stop shop that provides the utmost benefits to our customers to be integrated at the highest levels of functionality together with the other elements of our offering, such as electrification (low, medium and high voltage), drives and motors, field instrumentation and analytics.
In power management and distribution, ABB is considered a key player in the sector. With regards to subsea, ABB also has remarkable experience and has installed specific applications in the North Sea fields and in other parts of the world for first-class players in the field. In fact, as oil exploration and production become more and more challenging, ABB has the answers and solutions in this field.
Q: What are ABB’s goals for the future here in Egypt?
ABB’s local facilities in Egypt have always been regarded among the most important realities in the Egyptian industry sector, for the value of technology delivered out of Egypt as well as the high level of ABB employee skills. ABB in Egypt is an important player in the ABB Group that is tightly connected to the ABB global network, research centers and factories worldwide, which enables our customers’ to access the latest trends and technologies in the power and automation industries.
Although we have been facing a shrinking of the market due to the crisis, we are maintaining our commitments towards providing our customers with state of the art technology, delivered with the highest standard of quality. We hope to return to business as usual as soon as possible. Our goal is to continuously expand and improve ABB’s footprint with focus on customer satisfaction and service, as well as our commitment to social corporate responsibilities in our local community.