Innovation Awards 2015 An Open Ear for new Ideas: Meet the Innovation Champions 2015!

Author / Editor: Dominik Stephan* / Dominik Stephan

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.

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From idea to award-winning product: The seventh Innovation Award once again offered a dazzling display of exciting developments.
From idea to award-winning product: The seventh Innovation Award once again offered a dazzling display of exciting developments.
( © bahram7 - Fotolia)

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.

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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.

Surprises Included

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 %.

Another award-winner could impact pharmaceutical production the virtual way: Novasep’s Bio SC Predict is a simulation software for the development of continuous chromatography processes in the purification of biopharmaceutical substances. Compared with batch chromatography, continuous chromatography has several advantages: It saves material, time and cost, is more efficient, the process is more robust and it allows the use of process analysis technology.

Discover our Galleries from Achema 2015.....starting with some fairground impressions, faces and trends...

Achema 2015: The Faces, Trends and Impressions
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...followed by new solutions for control and automation

Control and Automation at Achema 2015
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However, the development of such processes is often expensive, as juror Anke Geipel Kern explains: “We find Bio SC Predict highly innovative and economically significant, as it has the potential to shorten development times in biopharmaceutics, thus facilitating faster time to market for drugs and creating genuine added value for pharmaceutical companies.”

There was one more award-winner from the field of pharmaceutical production: The Induction Integrity Verification System is an inspection system testing foil sealed medication vials for leakage. This product from Israeli manufacturer DIR-Technologies employs a non-invasive test with infrared light and allows for a quick and clean 100 % control of drug filling and packaging.

A Touch of Exoticism

“Engineering and Plant Apparatuses — there is hardly another category of our Innovation Award that combines more diverse product innovations”, said juror Dominik Stephan in his introduction of a category, where all sorts of developments, from actuators to heat exchangers fought for the innovation award.

Finally, the award went to a new distillation plant, which in the jury’s opinion was a perfect embodiment of the spirit of this award with its innovative concept and thoughtful implementation: The Fischer Autodest 800 AC/HV from Iludest for crude oil fractionation on a lab scale. With its newly developed distillation column, this system not only considerably expands the possible fields of application, but also allows performing in one single step an analyses which thus far required two standard procedures and a follow-up test.

Pump specialists showed their innovations...

Pumps, compressors and fittings at Achema 2015
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...and 'lab rats' discussed new analytical solutions.

Laboratory and Analytic Technologies at Achema 2015
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A touch of exoticism graced the presentation of the award in the category of “Seals, Valves and Fittings”. Not only did juror Rong Zang (Editor-in-Chief of PROCESS China) stress the importance of the issue for China, the winner can also be called exotic in this category dominated by shut-off valves and the like: The FKM seal material VI 840 by C. Otto Gehrckens, a novel material, was able to win the coveted trophy.

This elastomer innovation is a FKM sealing material compliant with DIN EN 14141 — something that industry insiders have demanded for a long time, said the juror. Due to its extreme resistance to deep and deepest temperatures, the new seal can help reduce leakage at low temperatures and extend maintenance intervals also for new areas of application.

After all the materials, systems and simulation solutions, the category of “Laboratory and Analytical Techniques” provided a look into the micro-world: Here, particularly innovations concerning Raman spectroscopy were prominently placed on the shortlist. This material testing technique has become an important pillar of analytics over the past few years. However, the required laser setting can be a problem for inexperienced users. Now Witec has addressed this problem and introduced Apyron, a Raman imaging microscope, which beginners and experts alike can safely use.

Mills, sieves and separators were highlighted among the mechanical processes...

Mechanical Processes at Achema 2015
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Nerve Center for Modules

Networked systems, mobile solutions, and modular plants: These visions should make the process industry grow together into a flexible, convincing and efficient organism. But without the necessary nerve center, none of this concepts can come to life. Interfaces and automation solutions are required when process skids communicate with existing measurement and control concepts or mobile field devices exchange data with system modules. So far, such efforts have largely remained proprietary isolated solutions — until the Namur (User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries) in its recommendation 148 “Automation Requirements relating to Modularization of Process Plants” clearly spoke out in favor of a uniform control and interface concept.

...thermal processes...

Thermal Processes at Achema 2015
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...pharma and food experts were interested in dosing and packaging solutions...

Pharma, Packaging and Storage Solutions at Achema 2015
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The Enabler Technology for Modularisation?

Now the automation experts from Wago have addressed the issue with the Dima concept, introducing a completely new process automation structure, which could become a key enabler for modular production and comprehensively fulfills the long-standing demands of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Due to its practical implementation of the Namur recommendations, Dima might well act as a major enabler for modular plants, said juror Dr. Jörg Kempf. By separating control from module level, the concept breaks up the classic automation pyramid, which might be the solution for modular production — but is in any case an excellent platform for further development and a worthy award- winner in the category of “Process Automation and Instrumentation/Control”.

...and our Achema TV team was on air for you!

Behind the Scenes of Achema Daily and Achema TV
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