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Solution Engineering by Pepperl+Fuchs – Made to Measure and Ready to Use

Intrinsically safe interface solutions
As one of Pepperl+Fuchs' core strengths, intrinsically safe interface technology plays a prominent role in the Solution Engineering Centers

Pepperl+Fuchs is known for its high-quality explosion protection products. With its Solution Engineering Centers (SECs), the Process Automation division offers engineering and tailor-made system solutions for customers all over the world.

"The go-ahead for the construction of the first Solution Engineering Center was given at Pepperl+Fuchs back in 2006, in response to customer requirements. Today, customers want complete system solutions from a single source, including documentation and certification. Or, to put it another way: a one-stop shop," explains Hermann Best, Director of the Systems+Solutions business unit. "The advantage for customers is clear. They can reduce the extent to which they engineer system units themselves, allowing them to significantly save costs and have only a single supplier as a point of contact."


Process automation all around the world

Pepperl+Fuchs has taken account of the great demand for system units with explosion protection certification and has since opened SECs around the world: from Buehl in Germany, Wednesbury in the UK, and Burago in Italy, to Houston in the USA, Beijing, Melbourne, Bangalore and other locations. "This approach gives us the ideal basis to not only respond to local conditions and market requirements, but also to manage international projects locally across each phase and execute them in close collaboration with our customers," says Best.

The portfolio of solutions offered in the SECs has grown enormously and covers different technologies:

  • Interface switch cabinet solutions
  • Remote I/O field units
  • FieldConnex® fieldbus solutions
  • Junction boxes
  • Control and distribution panels in the types of protection flameproof Ex d, increased safety Ex e, or purge and pressurization Ex p

Stopover Buehl – speed through standardized processes

Vulnerable electronic components are safely protected by sturdy enclosures
Vulnerable electronic components are safely protected by sturdy enclosures

A trip to the SEC in Buehl, southern Germany, provides some insight into how the centers work. This site has worked hard over the last five years to standardize and optimize processes. "As we handle around 60 projects a week with very tight schedules, we needed to optimize processing times in production, for example, and switch from parallel production to the one-piece flow principle," explains Markus Hertel, Head of the SEC in Buehl. The introduction of the scalable 3D system EPLAN Pro Panel was one such standardization measure. This system ensures that complex prototypes no longer need to be constructed physically. Additionally, mechanical collisions during planning of the cabinets are identified at an early stage and can be easily fixed.

"Overall, we scrutinize our processes continuously and adjust them so that they are aligned in the most effective way with the customer's needs," emphasizes Hertel. "And as standardization of processes is completed in close collaboration with the other locations, we have the opportunity to distribute and balance our workload across the SECs."


From quotation phase to tailor-made solution

But what exactly are the working processes that are followed if the customer wants a tailor-made solution? In the quotation phase – from the initial inquiry and feasibility study to the product calculation and solution quotation – the SEC works closely with Sales. Once the contract is awarded, complete responsibility for the project and its execution is transferred to the SEC. "We are responsible for everything from production drawings to procurement, assembly, wiring, and acceptance testing. We look after all of the customer documentation and explosion protection certification before supplying the tailor-made solution to the plant, ready for connection," explains Markus Hertel.

Stopover Houston – certification included

Pepperl+Fuchs delivers "ready to use" solutions, including all necessary certifications and documentation
Pepperl+Fuchs delivers "ready to use" solutions, including all necessary certifications and documentation

In many of these tailor-made solutions, certification plays a crucial role. A look at the SEC in Houston in the USA state of Texas shows just how important it is. "As is the case at the other locations around the world, we offer our customers solutions that meet all applicable safety requirements and already have the necessary local, regional, or international certification," explains David Hohenstein, Business Manager SECs America, before adding: "This allows us to offer a service that sets us apart from many other companies." Of course, customers can always build solutions and have them certified themselves, but this is time consuming as the number of approval standards and certification bodies is enormous:

  • ATEX
  • IECEx
  • ISO
  • UL
  • Customs Union (formerly GOST)
  • CCOE
  • NEPSI
  • CSA
  • INMETRO
  • various others…

 "Given the abundance of provisions, it takes a lot of work off of our customers if they no longer need to acquire or maintain certification themselves, especially at a time when there is a clear tendency toward streamlining organizational structures," says Hohenstein. "Our tailor-made, fully certified solutions not only help to shorten the time taken to commission a system; the fact that the customer's staff can focus on their actual core business also increases efficiency and saves the company money."


At home in every major zone

Pepperl+Fuchs holds accreditations for all major degrees of protection, as well as approval to manufacture certified solutions for applications in Zone 1 and 2 or Division 1 and 2 in accordance with regional specifications. "For companies with an international project business, the fact that we offer our service in all SECs worldwide represents a major advantage," emphasizes Hohenstein. "In these projects, tasks such as engineering, procurement, or construction are often carried out at different locations. Where this is the case, Pepperl+Fuchs can provide optimal support for each project phase."


Stopover Wednesbury and Burago – the right basis for every solution

This welding robot needs only eight minutes for a 620 x 450 x 215 mm sized stainless steel enclosure
This welding robot needs only eight minutes for a 620 x 450 x 215 mm sized stainless steel enclosure

Around 8000 kilometers from Houston, the sites in Wednesbury in the UK and Burago in Italy are working to utilize synergy effects and produce highly cost-effective components for all SECs at one site. Both of these sites manufacture empty enclosures that will be used later in the other SECs as a basis for individual solutions.

The SEC in Wednesbury near Birmingham produces emclosures made from stainless steel sheets or glass fiber reinforced polyester for the types of protection increased safety Ex e, intrinsic safety Ex i, or purge and pressurization Ex p. The metal enclosures are punched from flat sheet metal before being shaped and processed using a special welding robot. What's really special about these stainless steel enclosures from Pepperl+Fuchs is that their design allows them to be processed without adding any weld seams. This is a great advantage for customers, who receive an enclosure made entirely from corrosion-free and salt water-resistant materials (AISI 316L).

The SEC in Burago near Milan produces enclosures for the type of protection flameproof Ex d in salt water-resistant (copper-free) aluminum or stainless steel. The raw materials are manufactured in a foundry specifically for Pepperl+Fuchs. At the state-of-the-art CNC processing center, the raw parts are then processed according to explosion protection requirements and prepared for further customer-specific processing.


Supplied from a single source

These enclosures are then shipped from Wednesbury and Burago to SECs all over the world, where they are turned into tailor-made system solutions – with full documentation and certification, if required. These solutions are ready to use and are supplied from a single source, enabling customers to focus on their core business.

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