Process Automation and Explosion Protection Discover One-Stop Turnkey Solutions for Process Automation and Explosion Protection
Since many decades, automation, process technology and explosion protection form a very close interrelation. All three fields experienced tremendous technological progress and by now have reached a level of complexity which could only be handled by high-qualified experts.
Proximity switches and transistor amplifiers with intrinsically safe circuits, more than 60 years ago these technical innovations formed the foundation from which a nowadays leading manufacturer of industrial sensors as well as components and technologies for explosion protection has developed. Since these early days, innovations made by Pepperl+Fuchs had a major share in shaping explosion protection in process automation.
For instance, the company has been the first to pave the way of fieldbus into hazardous areas by means of Field Barriers and the high-power trunk concept which, for the first time, offered sufficient power for efficient operation of fieldbus field devices. Likewise, with Remote I/O Systems, WirelessHART and HMI solutions Pepperl+Fuchs continuously launch technological advancements into the market. Even with well-established and time-tested products such as analog IS isolators the company recently introduced “The Barrier”, the first truly universal barrier for various types of signals. These developments give an impression of the immense know-how the automation specialists gained in those fields of expertise. It covers all aspects, from product design all through to certification according to every corresponding standard.
Pepperl+Fuchs offers this knowledge not only by means of components but also as comprehensive complete solutions. “A solution for us means an explosion protected apparatus, composed from various components based on application-specific requirements,” explains Rainer Naegle, head of product group “Electrical Explosion Protection Equipment”. “In ordinary cases configurations from a pre-defined modular kit are sufficient, more complex requirements demand for sophisticated engineering.”
For both aspects, within Pepperl+Fuchs so-called Solution Engineering Centers (SEC) are responsible. These centers focus on project management and explosion protection. Their tailor-made systems integrate indigenous explosion protection modules with components from third-party providers, according to the customer’s specification. The SEC completely manage selection and procurement.
The chosen type of explosion protection depends on the requirements of the specific application. Naegle names increased safety Ex e, intrinsic safety Ex i, flameproof Ex d and pressurization Ex p as the four major variants. “We counsel our customers, choose the fitting components and deliver the control panel fully tested and certified. Thus it can be integrated immediately into the plant and commissioned. As a basic principle we participate from the application expertise of the plant operator — every solution is the result of close cooperation.”
Short Throughput Times
The first SEC was founded close to the Mannheim headquarters, in Buehl near Baden-Baden in the black forest area. “In 2006 we started to install our components in cabinets and enclosures, in order to supply our customers with complete and fully certified solutions,” remembers Christian Leppert, product manager automation solutions. “Over the years many standard solutions came into being, which are used within our network of SEC and as such can be offered globally.” Nowadays about 60 projects get completed in Buehl every week. Standardized processes according to the One-Piece-Flow-Principle ensure extremely short throughput times. Thanks to a scaleable 3D-CAD-system there is no need to generate physical prototypes. The digital planning data can be uploaded into their plant documentation system by most customers.
By now the range of solutions offered by the SEC is rather vast. It covers conventional interface cabinets, remote I/O field units, Field Connex fieldbus solutions as well as control and distribution panels in the types of explosion protection Ex d, Ex e, Ex i or Ex p. In addition to Buehl there are SEC in many economic hotspots, such as Bangalore (India), Houston (USA), Melbourne (Australia) and Shanghai (China).
The base of explosion protected solutions for zones 1 or 2 is formed by enclosures manufactured from aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron or glass fiber reinforced polyester. They are available in many different sizes and designs, with viewing windows for monitoring instruments as an option. Especially the Ex d enclosures are made of saltwater-resistant, copper-free aluminum or high-quality AISI 316L stainless steel. With solutions for safe areas standard cabinets are used, according to customer specification. In the tendering phase — from first contact through feasibility study and project calculation to solutions offer — the experts in the SEC work closely together with the sales network of the Pepperl+Fuchs group.
In almost every country of the world representatives are active which form the first contact to the user and conduct the requirements analysis. Then the specialist engineers of the SEC enter the game. Following a detailed engineering the customer gets a final proposal for approval. This starts the procurement, installation and wiring processes. All SEC keep standard components on stock which ensures a fast throughput cycle. At the very end follows a thorough test procedure. “We offer our customers the option to install their DCS in the system enclosure and conduct the Factory Acceptance Test on our premises,” states Leppert. “Here we have all necessary equipment and sufficient floor space. On site in the plant the accommodations are usually very crowded, working without interruptions is next to impossible.”
Certification takes place according to the respective international and regional standards. All over the world there exist quite many of those, for instance ATEX, IECEx, UL, EAC (former GOST), CCOE, NEPSI, CSA, INMETRO. Leppert: “We know all the valid regulations and take care of the certification work, thus relieving our customers greatly.”
The comprehensive project documentation as well as the logistics of shipping the turnkey solution are the final steps. If needed
Pepperl+Fuchs also supports commissioning, a reliable after-sales service is mandatory — even on drilling rigs far out in the ocean; the responsible service technicians hold the required offshore authorizations. “For our customers this is a truly ‘One-Stop-Shopping’. They have one contact for all procurement, all products and services are taken care of, they can downsize their in-house engineering and later, during maintenance, they can always count on our support,” Leppert concludes.