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Meeting the demand for more complex process control systems

15 April 2016

Process control systems are becoming more complex to help ensure improved efficiency, regulatory compliance and higher levels of automation and plant integration. One company offers a solution for those needed help with bespoke process control solutions. 

Bürkert has introduced its Systemhaus approach, which sees regional technology solutions centres, between the sales offices and larger-scale manufacturing facilities, helping solve control problems and building systems on-demand.

Neil Saunders, UK general manager for Bürkert, explained: “The market for small volume, specifically tasked control systems is certainly growing and the operational environments in which this equipment is working are complex and governed by legislation such as ATEX or food and pharmaceutical safety and cleanliness standards for example... Transferring the responsibility of meeting these demands can reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies.

“The diversity of requirements and the global appetite for these systems means that manufacturers need to take a new approach in order to meet demand. Bürkert manufactures over 100,000 different products for example, typically valves, actuators, sensors, controllers and combined devices. Applying these products to scenarios that require specialist assemblies requires skill and experience as well as an imaginative approach, but without the volume constraints of large scale production runs. This is where we use our Systemhaus network.”

The definition of a bespoke control system is one where the designers have to start from the ground up, working closely with the client to establish what will be delivered by the new system and how best to achieve it. Often existing technology and components will have to be integrated with unique parts and custom designs to achieve the best solution.

Jens Fuhrmann, general manager at Bürkert’s Dortmund Systemhaus, said: “Modern process control systems can encompass a huge range of parameters, deliver micron levels of accuracy and repeat millions of cycles, all the while recording data for standards compliance or historic analysis. However, designing, building and delivering a new process control system requires considerable expertise and flexibility, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the industry standards and specifications.

“The most effective way of delivering a bespoke project is to assign a team that contains all the necessary skills and expertise to design, simulate, prototype, construct and test the finished product. Working closely with the client, this team has the ability to ensure the most efficient methods are used to develop an idea into the completed design.

“These teams can procure all the necessary components, both from our own product lines and from external suppliers in order to achieve the most effective solution for the client. At the same time all the components must be seamlessly integrated and work together to deliver the required control structure and meet the necessary industry standards.”

Each industrial sector has its own requirements and these must be adhered to if any new product is to be accepted under the current certification scheme. There are statutory requirements of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) for the food processing industry that set very precise standards with regards to cleanliness, safety and product quality. These standards are aimed to protect the consumer and they are enforced rigorously in most countries by regulation.

Saunders concludes: “The completely in-house build programme will ensure that all the necessary components, including HMIs, PLCs and their programming will be integrated and ready to connect with the host system. We continue to support our customers with their own projects, however, sometimes you need the scope and resource of an original equipment manufacturer to deliver. The fact that we are using our Systemhaus resources more and more in the UK just serves to underline the fact that the market has changed and will continue to do so.”

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