ACHEMA: Safe Digitization Is a Priority for the Process Industry

Digitization is presenting the process industry with completely new considerations, including automated plant control and protecting against hackers. Companies are now urgently looking for ways to rise to the challenge. At ACHEMA 2018, digital trends and solutions were among the biggest attractions.

ACHEMA, the world’s most important specialist trade fair in the process industry, drew nearly 170,000 visitors and 3,800 exhibitors to Frankfurt am Main this year. While the event’s agenda addressed a whole range of key themes – from biotechnology to pharmaceutical logistics. But the topic of digital transformation in the sector was the common theme that connected almost all innovations present.

One of the coveted innovation awards went to Seepex for its metering pump that comes with its own smart control system. Other innovations included automated guided vehicles for intralogistics, connected laboratory equipment, and modular solutions for production – and these attracted decision makers and potential investors to the exhibitor booths.

Expert Dialog Should Provide Orientation

The objective of ACHEMA was not only to showcase components for process engineering plants. The main aim was to encourage dialogue and interdisciplinary exchange between the process industry and science. This is important against the backdrop of Industry 4.0, which presents challenges in many areas and is a topic that requires discussion. Cybersecurity is a particular source of uncertainty for many visitors, notes Stefan Basenach, Group Vice President of the Process Segment at HIMA. “Plant operators in the chemical and petrochemical industries require solutions that not only protect facilities and employees in the event of an emergency, but that can also defend against cyberattacks effectively and increase the long-term profitability of plants.” However, there is often a lack of orientation for how to achieve this, states Basenach.

Considering Safety and Security as a Whole

HIMA presented the Smart Safety Platform for the first time at ACHEMA. The idea is to no longer think of functional safety and IT security as separate topics. A hybrid that incorporates hardware and software brings both of these key aspects together.

The basis for this comprises a unified operating system for all product lines, the safety-oriented SafeEthernet communication standard, and regulated applications – the safe automation of a steam cracker, for example. The backward compatibility of the platform was important to ACHEMA visitors, too. Older, existing systems can be integrated within a safety concept and only modernized when it is completely necessary.

The demand for solutions based on a solid concept was high at ACHEMA. This is no surprise and the sector is more than aware of the rapid pace of digital transformation. In the age of industrial interconnectivity, reliable safety architectures play an important role in determining a company’s future sustainability.

Copyright header photo: Dechema e.V / Jean-Luc Valentin