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Next generation Remote IO Systems in hazardous areas

23 October 2019

Many Remote IO Systems are made for non-hazardous areas and only subsequently upgraded for hazardous areas. This means the capabilities of these units are restricted to Ex Zone 2 due to limited explosion protection measures, but the advantage with these devices is that they are mostly technically up-to-date. 

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Due to the elaborate Ex approvals process for Zone 1 equipment, there are only a relatively small number of manufacturers in this sector which means the equipment is often no longer state of the art.

Modular or compact

Existing Remote IOs are mainly characterised by their modularity, which allows the design of large central units with a high numbers of IO channels. In practice, sensors and actuators in the field are often distributed into manageable decentralised groups which are networked with each other. This gives an opportunity for an innovative company in the sector to make its mark.

Programming or Plug & Play

Modular Remote IO Systems must be configured by software and each module hardware change must also be tracked in the configuration software which means extra manpower and time. The best systems will come with this already done.

Prepared for Industry 4.0

Today, Profibus is still common in many plants, but more and more plant operators are recognising the importance of a continuous Ethernet-based bus system, such as PROFINET or EtherNet IP. The most flexible systems will support several Ethernet fieldbus technologies.

Conclusion

Compact Remote IO Systems will not replace modular systems or isolation amplifiers in general, but they offer clear advantages for all applications within decentralised system areas to get closer to the sensors and actuators.

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Case Study - Filling plant for spray paint cans with ATEX Zone 1 hazardous areas

The BEx-Solution Compact Remote IO System with 32 intrinsically safe channels and analogue and digital inputs and outputs was specially designed for zones 1/21.

This case study looks at the installation of the system at the MOTIP DUPLI plant in Hassmersheim, Germany. MOTIP DUPLI has been a pioneer in the field of paint sprays and paint pens in the European market for more than 50 years.

Application and solution

For its production plant in Hassmersheim am Neckar, MOTIP DUPLI uses several BEx1 Remote IO modules to evaluate digital and analogue sensors in the ATEX Zone 1 and to control solenoid valves. Communication with the PLC, which is set up outside the ATEX Zone, takes place via Profinet protocol.

Ralf Mündörfer, Operations Manager and Authorised Representative at MOTIP DUPLI, said: “Our modern production facilities produce high-quality products with maximum safety and quality control. With our modern filling technology, we have already produced more than 1 billion aerosol cans at the Hassmersheim plant.

“The innovative BEx Remote IO system helps us guarantee standards in terms of technology and safety, as well as plant availability and productivity.”

System partner Gesellschaft für Automation und Prozesstechnik (GAPro) from Hassmersheim, a specialist in installing control systems in industrial plants, has been using a range of bus systems from different manufacturers for years.

Achim Kraft, Managing Director of GAPro said: “The conversion of an existing production line at MOTIP DUPLI to a new control system with Profinet as well as the Remote IO System from BEx Solution went smoothly. The compact design of the BEx 1 Remote IO modules made it possible to set up the system directly at the production plant. The connecting cables to the sensors could be kept very short. The isolation switching amplifiers from the previous system were no longer necessary and the space required for the PLC also decreased as the IO level is now located directly in the Ex area in the Remote IO module.

“The installation effort was very low, as all signals from the filling plant to the controller run via a Profinet line. Due to the modules not having to be parameterised or configured, the programming effort was limited to the controller itself, since the BEx 1 behaves transparently in the controller periphery.”
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About the author

Karl Vogel is Chief Marketing Officer at Bex-Solution and has 30 years’ experience in the field of automation inside hazardous areas. He was previously a product manager at a well-known company for products and solutions in hazardous areas. Since 2017, Karl has been responsible for marketing and sales at BEx-Solution.


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