ABB Automation Systems AB, Crane Division, Sweden

“Multilizer’s way of producing multilingual software continues reducing costs even after system delivery.” — Patrik Nordvall, ABB Automation Systems AB

Using Multilizer in software developed for heavy industry

ABB Automation System AB Crane Division delivers turnkey container-crane systems worldwide. The systems typically use software in the steering system’s user interfaces as well as in data analyzing systems. Therefore, the delivery of sophisticated crane systems nowadays requires the delivery of software, too.

ABB’s delivery of container crane systems to China is just an example of a global whole-solution product that needs to get adapted for local markets. Chinese legislation requires that all products — including software — needs to be adapted, i.e., localized in Chinese.

At the time of the product development, there were many localization products that supported software localization to Chinese. Besides its support for streamlined localization process, only Multilizer could deliver the ability to produce multilingual software that lets users change UI language on run-time. These benefits — along with already using Multilizer during development — made us choose Multilizer.

Savings in service & support costs

Like in any industry-strength system, there’s technical on-site support included in the delivery. Now, what happens if an English-speaking support/service person travels to China and tries to solve problems in software running in Chinese? Should the entire system be shut down to allow a language change? Obviously not! Multilizer enabled ABB to localize the software in the way that UI language can be changed in software during run-time. This allows the support person to change the language back and forth between the local language and English.

Instead of hiring and educating a local customer support engineer — or hiring a technically oriented interpreter — for every single target market, ABB is now able to centralize the support function and both improve quality and reduce costs.

Savings in development

Back to the development, the crane-steering software developers are located in Sweden. To debug the software, they use Swedish. In error-reports they get from the field, they switch the language to English. Since starting to use Multilizer in 1998, ABB estimates it has saved hundreds of hours spent on software development.

Savings in localization

Multilizer minimizes the localization work in ongoing software development processes. Each new version only requires localization if there are changes in user interface. In those situations, the built-in translation memory minimizes additional translation work. The possibility to import glossaries into Multilizer ensures that industry-specific terminology is used correctly. In this regard, it not only cuts costs but also increases quality.

Future plans

In future versions of software, localization activities will cover additional languages as well as additional file formats. “Multilizer support for localizing XML and other structured data in an intuitive and secure way is for sure in our plans,” said Patrik Nordvall. “Multilizer technology has proven its reliability in our industry where any shortage costs a fortune.”

ABB Automation Technology Products

The Automation Technology Products division provides products, systems, software, and services for the automation and optimization of discrete, process, and batch manufacturing operations, plus related business aspects. Key technologies include measurement control, instrumentation, process analysis, drives and motors, power electronics, robots, and low-voltage products, all geared toward one common Industrial IT architecture for real-time automation and information solutions across the business enterprise. These technology products are served to customers via third-party channel partners (OEMs, system integrators, distributors), through ABB’s divisional sales force and electronically over the Internet. The division has about 40,000 employees.