Hej vänner (HEY FRANDSSSS)!
Can’t believe it’s Thursday already 😮
We are taking a bus out to Västerås, Sweden. Vasteras is home to Asea, which is the company that merged with Brown Boveri to become ABB. ABB employs roughly 4,200 employees in this town, which is insane!
The highly anticipated ABB visit did not disappoint. The ABB facilities in Vasteras were a lot bigger and, in my opinion, a lot nicer compared to that of my ABB location in Oakmont, PA and also Wickliffe, Ohio. The highlights of the day include playing with virtual reality and seeing the robotics assembly factory. I actually initially approached the ABB representative at the co-op fair because I was interested in ABB’s robotics sector, so it was surreal to actually pass by ABB’s moving robots.
The focus of our visits was on the FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems) technology. This includes technology like a shunt compensator or a series capacitor that enhance the capacity and flexibility of power transmission systems.
A shunt compensator combines resistor and capacitors to control the grid voltage according to a given optimal characteristic. This means the ability to control voltage locally. This also enhances the grid capacity since the behavior is now more predictable and robust. There are two types: Static Var Compensator (SVC) dealing with thyristor technology, and the Static Compensator (STATCOM) based transistor IGBT technology.
Similarly, series compensation reduces transfer reactance, which results in an increase in the transmission system transient and voltage stability. This is like reducing the virtual line length and thus increasing speed and power flow. As a result, fewer transmission lines are needed in theory since more power is transmitted through existing lines. Series compensation with thyristor control (TCSC) enables the modulation of reactance, which makes it possible to interconnect grids with very high generating capacity.
With regards to incorporating more renewables, we were told that Sweden has goals of being 1/3 wind, 1/3 hydro, 1/3 nuclear by 2040.
We then each got to test out a virtual reality experience of a FACTS plant. The fun part: jumping off buildings and throwing things. The useful part: being able to walk in the buildings and handle components virtually.
Next, robots making robots: ABB Robotics! From ABB’s corporate news emails last year, I learned that Lady Gaga actually used ABB industrial robotic arms in her tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys.
At the factory, workers were actually assembling the robots by hand; however, we did see some robots that were assembling the controllers. As expected, a large share of the market is in transportation. The robots typically have up to 6 axes of rotation and have an impressive tolerance of 0.1mm. The lifespan although not definite would roughly be 30 years, which also demonstrates the quality of the robots being produced. Although I really wanted to take pictures, I know this experience will stay with me.
Lastly, we toured the Lighthouse, which is a new R&D testing facility focused on high power, high voltage, and converter technologies. I felt like this tour was lacking in clarity. Some of the cabinets in the test area were similar to those that I worked with on in my co-op.
We ate at the restaurant Pyttirian in the Kungshallen food court and got gelato afterward.
One challenge I faced more in Sweden (not at all in Denmark really) was that most of the menus were in Swedish and not English. This made it difficult to tell what was vegetarian and the ingredients were in food. I overcame this by asking about vegetarian options and then just going with what that was since there often wasn’t more than one to choose from. Most of the time I did not know what I was eating in Sweden, but I did know that it all tasted new and delicious (and unhealthy haha so more of a one-time thing). It really is not too different though from the U.S. since I usually have to ask and make adjustments at restaurants so I can still try a variety of foods that meet my lifestyle. I never limit myself to salads and always opt for more unique options 🙂
Now we have the rest of the time to explore Stockholm for two full days. We’re basically taking the rest of the evening off to plan for the next two days and then resting.