"A competitive advantage in the process industry will be increasingly dependent on how effective and efficient production is organized," says Felix Seibl, Director of Measurement Technology and Process Automation with the Electrical and Electronic Manufacturer’s Association (ZVEI). According to Seibl, plant operators need their production to be "more flexible, faster, and cost-efficient than their competition – in other words, second to none."
For the second time since 2017, members of ZVEI and users are demonstrating how the process industry is significantly increasing the flexibility of such plants by standardizing interfaces using modular concepts and intelligent, decentralized automation at a special display in Hall 11 at HANNOVER MESSE 2018.
Partners for the special display Process INDUSTRIE 4.0: The Age of Modular Production are ZVEI, NAMUR, ProcessNet, and a Dechema and VDI initiative. It is supported by such firms as ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Festo, HIMA, Phoenix Contact, Samson, Siemens, Wago, and Yokogawa. The TU Dresden and the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg along with a number of users from the chemical-pharmaceutical industry such as BASF, Bayer, Clariant, Covestro, Evonik, INVITE, Lanxess, and Merck are also participating in the special display in cooperation with module manufacturers.
For the past several years, the NAMUR and ZVEI study groups have been working together with Dechema and VDI on multi-vendor specifications for modules. "With a Module Type Package (MTP) the individual unit type operations can quickly be interconnected into an overall process to ensure superior production," explains Seibl. MTP is the heart of automation for modular plants. The approach, which consists of distributing control intelligence from the process control system to the plant modules, specifying plant modules digitally, and providing for a neutral interface between plant module and control system, is a "clear break with existing automation paradigms in the process industry," says Seibl.
One demonstrator at HANNOVER MESSE 2017 helped the initiative prove that human-machine interfaces can be used regardless of manufacturer. Since then according to Dr. Linus Schulz of Dechema, "functionality, situation-based process control, diagnosis, and maintenance" have been advanced and the issue of how to upload multivendor information into the process control system without much effort has been addressed. At the most recent NAMUR committee meeting the results were presented. NAMUR Director Heinrich Engelhard is convinced "that manufacturers can begin introducing this technology." At any rate, visitors to HANNOVER MESSE 2018 can see that a great deal of progress is being made.