PROCESS Innovation Award nominates the Champions of Innovations 2015 — A smartphone that understands pumps? A virtual chromatography process? An innovative material? These and many other developments have the potential to fundamentally change the industry. Anyone believing that all significant inventions in the process industry have already been made is much mistaken: At Achema 2015, we have searched for the innovation champions — with surprising results.
Where are the innovations? While in the virtual world, digital business models turn markets upside-down, the mills in the process industry seem to grind slower. Detail and efficiency improvements and combinations of best practices often seem like the pinnacle of development. Even much-discussed visions like the Internet of Things or Modular Plants remain mere visionary projects.
However, behind the scenes, the industry is already working on the future: Component manufacturers and process developers are researching innovations in laboratories and technical centers. Consequently, they had a lot to show at Achema 2015: new materials, innovative machines or clever simulation solutions proofed what the industry is capable of.
Innovations come in all shapes and sizes, from troubleshooting via smart phone to whole distillation plants. That’s why the PROCESS Innovation Award once again sorted out the major trends: Which new developments win us over with their efficiency, innovation level or market potential? For the seventh time, the jury made up of the PROCESS editorial staff and independent experts — like former Bayer Technology Services Manager Dr. Norbert Kuschnerus, Dr. Thomas Zimmer, Vice President of ISPE Europe, or Dr. Friedrich-Wilhelm Hennecke, longtime Director of the BASF Pump Center — set out to crown the Innovation Champions. No easy task, given nearly 100 entries from all sectors of the process industry.
Quite a few categories had surprises in store. In the conservative pumps environment for example a development, that shows how mobile devices can create benefit directly in the plant operation, took the prize: The Sonolyzer app from pump specialists KSB makes smart phones a diagnostic tool — and does so in the simplest possible way.
When recording the operating noise of a fixed speed pump with the smart phone, the app can provide a diagnosis of the pump’s condition solely based on the noise profile and directly indicate potential faults or inefficient operating conditions — all without knowing any individual characteristic curves or other technical data, and manufacturer-independent.
“The KSB Sonolyzer thus introduces Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things to existing facilities, where pumps have been in operation for decades, often in a non-transparent way”, explained juror and laudator Dr. Jörg Kempf the decision. Developments like this open up an enormous potential for optimization — with a device that almost everyone carry with them all the time anyway.
Innovations of the Tangible Kind...
An innovation of the more tangible kind scored high in the “Mechanical Processing” category, where a machine for the downstreaming of microcapsules convinced the jury: Powder Systems’ Microsphere Refiner can help to overcome problems like mesh blocking and difficulties in size classification, long drying times, danger of loss of sterility or scale up difficulties, increasing efficiency by a whopping up to 97 %.
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