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Modernisation of the process pneumatics

Decentralised automation systems in hygienic design - collaboration with Ehrmann

Valve islands in high-pressure control cabinets for sterile tank farms

Process and procedural systems in the food, luxury food and beverage industries are usually designed for a long operating duration. At some point, however, they too get on in years. If the maintenance intervals become shorter and shorter and spare parts become more difficult to obtain, modernisation measures are inevitable. They can also be used to improve the overall system structure and thus productivity. Compact valve islands as decentralised automation systems for controlling the pneumatics are a practical solution here. With ready-to-connect compact systems in hygienic stainless steel control cabinets, even complex systems can be restructured without causing long downtimes.

Because the pneumatic cabinets are small and external parts are made from stainless steel, the high-pressure automation system is ideally suited for use close to the actuators and sensors in the hygiene-sensitive process environment of the sterile tank farm.

A dairy with tradition

Ehrmann SE, one of Germany’s leading dairies, can draw on a long company history and traditions associated with this. In 1920, the dairy master Alois Ehrmann sen. founded his dairy as a one-man operation. Since then, the company has continuously developed and is now convincing users with a diverse, high-quality product range nationally and internationally. To ensure that it stays that way in the future, the dairy invests in the development of new products and repeatedly in the modernisation and optimisation of production facilities. In the anniversary year 2020, the renovation of the process pneumatics in a sterile tank farm at the Oberschönegg location was on the agenda. The system, which takes over the product feed for five production lines, was showing its age. There were more and more malfunctions.

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“Troubleshooting was often difficult because the pneumatic control of the 400 or so process valves was housed in a central control cabinet. Tracking the long cable routes and locating the sources of error demanded a lot from our maintenance staff."

Reinhard Huber, Team Leader for Plant Construction Electrical Engineering at Ehrmann SE

(Source: Ehrmann SE)

Clear and without long lines: decentralised instead of centralised solutions

"Bürkert always has an open ear for such special requests, which we particularly appreciate when working with us."

Reinhard Huber, Team Leader for Plant Construction Electrical Engineering at Ehrmann SE

The framework conditions for the renovation and restructuring of the extensive process pneumatics were definitely not easy. The production process only allowed short downtimes and the space available at the sterile tank system was anything but generous. However, the complex task was mastered in close cooperation. The pneumatic functions were analysed, then spatially assigned to the corresponding system parts and combined in such a way that they could be accommodated in eight decentralised units on the system. For the decentralised pneumatic control units, the modular valve islands with up to 48 valve functions each with the AirLINE-Quick adaptation were installed and pre-wired in hygienic control cabinets (type 8614). Other optional assemblies, e.g. filter regulator, pressure monitoring or power supply unit, completed the cabinets. An empty field was also provided for Ehrmann, where additional components could be accommodated

The dimensions of the pneumatic cabinets are relatively small and all external parts are made of durable stainless steel. This means that the ready-to-connect, tested and certified high-pressure automation system is ideally suited for use close to the actuators and sensors in the middle of the hygiene-sensitive process environment of the sterile tank farm. This significantly reduces the expenditure for piping, because the routes to the actuators are much shorter than before.

"Our maintenance staff is also happy about the clarity of the decentralised structure."

Reinhard Huber, Team Leader for Plant Construction Electrical Engineering at Ehrmann SE

Compact and diagnostics-friendly pneumatic cabinets

All the important information about the process, such as the current switching states of the pilot and process valve, or detection of cable breaks, is available to the user directly on site on the display of the valve islands. This data is also forwarded to the system control via Profinet. The valve islands are equipped with all common pneumatic process safety features as standard. Check valves in the ventilation duct prevent, for example, valves being unintentionally enabled by pressure peaks in the ventilation duct, which ensures a high level of process reliability. Thanks to the hot swap function, valves can be changed while the system is running under pressure and when voltage is applied. This means that there is no production downtime here either.

Valve island Type 8652 AirLINE, each with up to 48 valve functions.

Quick start-up: conversion in two steps

Our technicians completed the conversion quickly. We lost less than three days in production capacity.

Reinhard Huber, Team Leader for Plant Construction Electrical Engineering at Ehrmann SE

Production downtime was a key topic for the conversion. It was important to keep it as short as possible. The high-pressure control cabinets with the valve islands were delivered ready for connection and only the compressed air, power supply and bus system had to be connected on site. But that also takes time and manpower. In order to keep downtimes as short as possible, the sterile tank farm was converted in two steps. First, four decentralised control cabinets were installed, while some of the functions could continue to run via the old pneumatic controller. After start-up and successful testing of the first four valve islands, it was the turn of the other four control cabinets.

At Ehrmann, the technical employees undertook the conversion themselves. In the sterile tank farm, there was little space for additional technicians due to the limited space available. However, in principle the Bürkert service team does support the users in this start-up phase too

"In close cooperation with Bürkert, the modernisation of the complex process pneumatics was managed quickly”.

Reinhard Huber, Team Leader for Plant Construction Electrical Engineering at Ehrmann SE

You can find more information on this topic in our webinar “Valve island Type 8652 with unique possibilities” with Heiko Kurtz:

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