Small Valve Vendor Provides Value Through System Integration

End Users Benefit When Festo Plays to Its Strengths

By Walt Boyes

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"What is more," Poupard says, "because of the intrinsic simplicity of pneumatics, the system is easier to maintain, saves costs and increases efficiency as staff require little training to work with the pneumatic system."

Pneumatic Automation

Similarly, right from the time of its foundimng more than 300 years ago, St. Petersburg has set standards in architecture and city planning. Now this city, the former capital of Russia, is playing a leading role in the field of drinking water treatment.

Vodokanal, the St. Petersburg water utility company, has set itself the target of reducing the electricity consumption of its drinking water supply system by more than a third. Until now, electric drives were the first choice for Russia's water treatment plants, but in St. Petersburg, the use of only electric drives would have meant an installed load of 75 kW. The plant could not have provided this without extending the electrical infrastructure. "In order to achieve the energy-saving targets which we set ourselves, we therefore needed to find new solutions," explains Maksim Pirschin, manager of the plant's block K-6 at Vodokanal. A pneumatic system required an installed load of only 10 kW. "Simply by replacing the electric drives with 120 pneumatic actuators from Festo, we were able to save at least an additional €65,000," said Pirschin.

Ready-to-Install Solutions

The new block K-6 of Surface Water Treatment Plant South in St. Petersburg includes 20 new sand filters. Each filter basin is assigned six butterfly valves with actuators and shutoff valves to open and close the facility's inlets and outlets.

In addition to valve assemblies consisting of butterfly valves with actuators, shut-off valves and sensor boxes, which Festo supplied in ready-to-install form, Vodokanal has chosen ready-to-install control cabinets with VTSA valve terminals, pressure and flow sensors and service units from Festo's MS series. "If we source all the pneumatic automation equipment we need from the same supplier, we simply have fewer problems during operation and maintenance," Pirschin adds.

Running with the Big Dogs

Craig Correia, manager of process automation at Festo USA, says, "We're looking for applications where we can win. We can't really compete across the board with the big automation vendor companies, but we've been successfully leveraging our strengths in water treatment, the chemical industry, and in wastewater treatment. We have innovative offerings in process valves, actuators, pneumatic actuators and I/O."

He went on to explain that the expansion of Festo into system integration has been successful. "As you've seen from these examples, we can do the complete automation for small- and medium-sized projects where we supply the valves, the actuators, and we also design the control system, provide the GUI and build the cabinets. We love to be sole source, and we make sure we give our customers the value that sole source deserves."

Standardization of Automation

Likewise, B. Braun Melsungen AG has Europe's most modern manufacturing plant for infusion solutions. A comprehensive analysis of automation technology requirements by experts from Festo and B. Braun found that the entire value chain could benefit from standardized pneumatic automation components. "The reduction of maintenance costs and the decrease of downtimes were the most persuasive arguments for standardization," explains Klaus Sonntag, head of maintenance with B. Braun.

The life nutrition plant in the new B. Braun factory produces infusion solutions in new, three-chambered bags and is highly automated, but now also highly standardized. Standardization revealed an enormous potential for improvement in both the primary and secondary production areas. Previously, the various plant and machine builders supplying production and packaging equipment had installed automation products sourced from up to six different pneumatics suppliers. This required a large number of spare parts, which increased complexity and thus the costs of maintenance.

Standardization Decreases Complexity

The project's aim was very clear: as many machines and installations as possible were to be equipped with the types of pneumatic components previously used at B. Braun. The project team defined a standard and produced a list of recommended equipment that considerably simplified maintenance work at B. Braun. In this engineering phase, the Festo experts provided much advice, covering everything from a 3D model to design coordination.

During the logistics and implementation phase, the automation specialist coordinated the implementation of standards with the various machine and plant builders. This made it possible to achieve a single-source supply chain, which cut costs and increased the efficiency of the purchasing process. In this phase of the value chain, Festo planned, built and supplied 45 ready-to-install valve terminal cabinets directly to the pharmaceutical plant manufacturer.

Simply Fit and Forget

Complete solutions were supplied fully assembled and tested, thus reducing the workload of the customer's technical personnel, keeping system design costs low, simplifying the purchasing process and cutting process costs. "Fit and forget is the objective for our customers," explains Jürgen Weber, head of key account management for process automation at Festo Germany. This generates clear advantages for users in the installation and commissioning phase.

B. Braun can rely on uniform product technology, from the process installations to the packaging machines. At the heart of the automation system at the sensor/actuator level is the valve terminal CPX/MPA, installed in a control cabinet. Thanks to its flexible control concept, the bus-driven valve terminal can be used as an I/O module for the connection of all feedback signal devices, drives and process valves. Today it's controlling 4000 diaphragm and other process valves in pharmaceutical production operations. Festo was able to guarantee that all the deliveries from the various countries conformed to the project standard.

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