Safe control in explosive atmospheres

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Safe control in explosive atmospheres

Related tags: Automation, Process control

Designing and building process control panels requires considerable expertise, especially when they are destined for hazardous areas with potentially explosive atmospheres, which exist in some dusty food manufacturing environments.

Fluid control system supplier Bürkert makes ATEX (explosive atmosphere) rated process panels and supplies engineering firms and end users, as well as other panel builders and system integrators. It is a specialist in large hazardous area ‘Ex-rated’ process panels.

The primary emphasis for all equipment operating in a zoned area is safety. The identification of different zones categorises the risk and, therefore, the level of protection required to avoid danger.

Any component or system that is to be used in a zoned area must meet the relevant standards and be installed by suitably qualified engineers in order for certification to be valid.

Suitably compliant process

The task of designing process control systems that meet DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002), ATEX and other similar standards requires considerable levels of competence in order to deliver a suitably compliant process that meets the demands of the application.

Designing and implementing efficient and reliable process control systems also requires an understanding of the application.

A huge range of products and systems is available that can be combined to produce bespoke process control systems. However, special care is required when the application involves operating in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Many smaller systems use a centralised control concept, which is based around a control cabinet that contains all of the necessary components to operate the control valves, including the programmable logic controller, network connections, input/output systems and valve islands.

System of process control

In many cases, especially in larger facilities, working towards a decentralised system of process control can provide a number of benefits compared with more traditional approaches.

This concept uses pneumatically operated process valves at the field level, which can be equipped with automation components, such as a pilot valve with manual actuation, electrical feedback units and optical status indication, fieldbus interfaces and even positioners and process controllers.

To bridge the gap between centralised and decentralised automation concepts, flexible pneumatic valve units and compact automation systems can be used. These units are typically wall-mounted directly inside small cabinets that can be installed close to the process in question.

Contact Bürkert Fluid Control Systems​ for more information. 

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