I/O-System Safe Filling in Hazardous Areas - Modular and Standardized Field Level Integration from Zone 1

Author / Editor: Benjamin Böhm* / Dr. Jörg Kempf

Filling above-level, sub-level or below bunghole: this is what you hear when experts talk about drum filling technology. Feige Filling develops Ex solutions for Atex Category 1 because their filling machines mainly operate in hazardous areas. To meet these requirements, the company relies on the universal Wago-I/O-System 750 at the I/O level.

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The remote Wago-I/O-System 750 readily covers both hazardous and non-hazardous areas in one system.
The remote Wago-I/O-System 750 readily covers both hazardous and non-hazardous areas in one system.
(Picture: Wago; © markus dehlzeit, © eickblick/Fotolia.com; [M]GötzelHorn)

They may be green, gray, red, blue or black, but they always contain 200 liters. Internationally standardized steel drums are widely used to fill potentially hazardous liquids, such as oils and chemicals, into robust packaging. To fill these drums, Feige Filling has developed a turnkey filling line that also includes both handling and material flow processes.

“Our customers want to fill and ship their products. They do not want to worry about how the drums arrive under the fill valve or will later materialize on the shipping pallet,” says Marketing Manager Martina Thomsen. She adds that drums are just one of many packaging types that the Feige Filling systems can accommodate. “The spectrum ranges from 1 m³ IBCs and drums to small containers, such as paint buckets from the hardware store.”

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Given the variety of packaging, it’s no surprise that the contents are incredibly diverse as well. Of course, these fluids all have properties — highly viscous, foaming, combustible or explosive — that can make the filling process extremely demanding. Therefore, Feige Filling’s systems must meet particular challenges, including Atex directive requirements for the construction and operation of machines and systems used in hazardous areas.

About half the filling systems that leave the company are approved for Zone 1 hazardous areas because explosion protection is part of Feige Filling’s daily business. Fittingly, Feige Filling considers this fact when configuring a system. “We place both inputs and outputs as close as possible to the process, where the signals are created and where they are transmitted,” explains Jörn Czysch, Automation Engineer at Feige Filling. “Our goal is avoiding unnecessary wiring.”

Integrating the I/O Level Directly into the Process

For filling process automation, Feige Filling relies on Wago’s intrinsically safe modules from the remote Wago-I/O-System 750. The modules can be installed close to the filling process for connecting sensors and light barriers on the input side, as well as solenoid and pneumatic valves on the output side. First and foremost, Feige Filling saves both installation space and time by bringing the control system close to the process. Compared to star topology wiring, the control cabinet’s position within a production line simply matters less. This reduces engineering costs while simplifying the design of modular systems.