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A close eye on every factory - Standardized automation from Siemens as a success factor in granulate production
Heitersheim, Germany. inprotec AG (inprotec) develops and produces high-grade powders and granulates such as detergent additives or feedstuffs. Alongside its headquarters in Heitersheim, the company also operates two additional factories in Leverkusen and Genthin. To optimize production of what are usually very specific and individual customer orders, inprotec relies on end-to-end automation based on process control and remote access technology from Siemens. This not only permits efficient engineering, a high level of flexibility and simple plant operation: Remote access also enables highly economical and environmentally friendly plant monitoring.
From laboratory-scale batches of 100 grams and upwards through to campaigns involving up to 10,000 tons – flexibility in the production of powders and granulates is one of inprotec’s core strengths. The laboratory, pilot and production facilities of the company based in Baden-Württemberg in Southwest Germany offer an annual production capacity of over 100,000 tons.To allow the company to address customer needs quickly and flexibly, inprotec is working to continuously expand the automation of its plants using solutions from Siemens.
Overarching standard decisive for success
“We started with Simatic S5 controllers and Version 5.1 of the Simatic PCS 7 process control system. We’re now running redundant OS servers (Operator Station Server), a web server and a Process Historian Server and eleven clients in Genthin,” explains Uwe Kirschner, Head of the Electrical, Measurement and Control Systems Department at inprotec. The entire production including energy management is integrated in the Simatic PCS 7. The redundant OS servers prevent production downtime while operations such as the transfer of program changes to the controller are taking place. The standard Advanced Process Library (APL), which has been available since version 7 of the process control system was launched, helps tangibly simplify engineering and operation, which is why inprotec uses the different function blocks to implement every one of its plants. As a result, the standardized software blocks form the foundation for uniform process control and visualization at all the company’s locations. As Kirschner explains, Version 8.2 brought another major benefit. “Since Version 8.2 was released, we’ve been using the trend curves which can be accessed directly from the process display for each measuring point. This allows our plant operators to predict how the cycle is likely to progress and make any manual adjustments necessary.”
Convenient, reliable remote access
Alongside the process control system, inprotec benefits in particular from the Sinema Remote Connect (RC) management platform, which enables simple but secure remote access to the plants. For security reasons, no direct access connection is established to the plant network over Sinema RC. Instead, the user and the relevant plant each separately set up a link to the Sinema RC. Only after security certificates are exchanged and an identity test has been successfully passed is remote access possible. Connection to the management platform takes place independently of the operating system over a smartphone, tablet or laptop using cellular networks, DSL or private network structures. To guarantee network security at all times, the plants are linked locally to highly robust Scalance S-615 routers with extended security functions.
A solid solution with vision
By combining a remote access solution for highly economical and environmentally friendly plant monitoring with Simatic PCS 7 as the standard across all its factories, inprotec is ideally set up to address highly individual customer inquiries which frequently entail a time-critical element – with a high level of plant availability built in. “Given the large volume of orders currently on our books, we simply can’t afford any disruptions,” sums up Kirschner.
inprotec AG based in Heitersheim manufactures powders and granulates with the support of systems such as the Sinema Remote Connect management platform, which ensures secure remote access to plants in its three production sites.
The Simatic PCS 7 process control system from Siemens forms the basis for the entire automation system.
If program changes are transferred to the controller, redundant OS servers prevent plant failures and downtimes.
inprotec produces more than 100,000 tons of powders and granulates from over 2,500 different starting materials every year.