ACHEMA 2018 – Innovation and a strong plea for international cooperation

Author: Mike Rhodes, Hydrocarbon Processing and Gas Processing & LNG

With 3,737 exhibitors from 55 countries, ACHEMA 2018 retained its place as the most important event of the process industry worldwide, highlighting equipment, technologies and processes for the chemical, pharma and food industries. For five days, June 11-15, the Frankfurt event was attended by more than 170,000 industry professionals from more than 100 countries around the world. ACHEMA again increased its share of foreign exhibitors to 56%, continuing its move to become more international. The largest exhibition groups beyond Germany came from China and Italy. Exhibitor numbers from Japan, Korea and Taiwan grew, while the number of European countries remained stable.

Important topics in exhibition and congress included flexible production, the role of logistics, the protection of resources, digitalization and energy. Against the backdrop of recent political developments, the importance of international cooperation came into focus. On the opening day of ACHEMA, the Chair of the ACHEMA Exhibitors Committee, Jurgen Nowicki, emphasized that international trade is not only essential for the exchange of products and services, but also for innovation. A platform such as ACHEMA would not be conceivable without a framework of free international competition.

The week-long event emphasized flexible production for allowing for more individual products, the increasing role of biotechnological methods in the chemical industry and the increasing worldwide cross-linking enabled by logistics as illustrative examples of the industry’s innovative power. Key topics of discussion included process automation; instrumentation, control and automation technologies; safety technologies, including industrial and labor safety issues; environmental protection, including industrial water management; and flexible production.

Throughout the week, the continued positive outlook for the chemical industry in Germany was balanced by the new geopolitical risks arising from the protectionist trade policies, as well as from China’s industrial policy strategy. Generally, the outlook was positive, as companies see the potential for increased digitalization and circular economies.

Tasks such as the fight against climate change can only be solved globally and on a level competitive playing field. Professor Dr. Rainier Diercks, Chairman of DECHEMA e.V. that organized the Congress with some 800 presentations, highlighted international cooperation in research and development. “Science and innovation thrive on the free exchange of information, people and technology,” he said. “Whomever hiders this exchange without good reason ultimately puts the future development of this planet at 

risk.” Another common theme throughout the event was that the process industry works on questions that concern the entire world, from climate change to health care, energy and mobility.

Company spotlights. While thousands of companies displayed their technologies and industry knowledge throughout the event, a few are highlighted here.

AVEVA celebrated the completion of its combination with Schneider Electric’s industrial software business (FIG. 1). AVEVA has combined the power of two leading software companies to accelerate how capital-intensive industries achieve digital transformation across the entire value chain. AVEVA’s end-to-end offering now leads the industry in bringing together the asset and operational lifecycle. Industrial and engineering customers stand to benefit from improved profitability, efficiency and performance, to ultimately maximize return on capital.

FIG. 1. The AVEVA team presented their technologies to the next generation of engineers at ACHEMA 2018 in Frankfurt last week.

The combination brings together AVEVA’s design, engineering and construction capabilities for capital assets with Schneider Electric’s industrial software business, which ranges from simulation to asset performance and real-time manufacturing operations management. The combination unlocks the power of two successful portfolios, delivering improved profitability and operational excellence across capital-intensive industries.

Bentley Systems Inc. announced the general availability of its OpenPlant CONNECT Edition. The new release allows for greater collaboration among individuals across the enterprise and teams to coordinate work and easily share information within the extended supply chain and manage the exchange of plant design information with third-party systems and reality modeling. Bentley colleagues demonstrated the OpenPlant CONNECT Edition at their booth.

Attendees were also able to preview reality modeling-enabled Visual Operations. This new offering helps owner-operators of industrial sites, substations, transportation assets and telecommunication towers streamline their operations and decrease inspection costs. Asset managers and field technicians can access information and obtain intelligence on their assets by combining asset information with a 3D reality mesh created from drone photography. This solution provides performance digital twins that effectively documents brownfield conditions and spatially links asset information, providing the “where” to asset management. At ACHEMA, Bentley and Siemens provided insight on their future initiatives, including a plant engineering and operations solution.

HIMA’s focus was on its new Smart Safety Platform, which uses identical basic components across all HIMA product families. By freely combining the platform components, almost every customer solution can be developed and implemented. Hardware and software are perfectly tailored to each other (FIG. 2). Thanks to this holistic approach to safety and cybersecurity, companies can use a solution from a 

FIG. 2. HIMA’s Smart Safety Platform includes Smart Safety Solutions, which are based on a holistic evaluation of the system operator’s safety and security requirements, and Smart Safety Services that encompass all HIMA service and consulting services related to safety and security.

single source and significantly reduce the complexity of their systems - with the highest safety standards.

Tuesday showcased an event at the John Crane exhibition to celebrate the acquisition of Seebach GmbH. The company’s leadership team spoke about how John Crane will expand its filtration technology and service offering as a result of this acquisition. With a focus on mission-critical product technologies, John Crane showcased its range of dry gas vessel seals for mixer applications, designed to maintain product purity at critical phases during production, particularly its latest offering from the Aura™ family of gas sealing technology for compressors.

Rockwell Automation invited ACHEMA attendees to address the challenges of establishing, running, maintaining and securing their digital factory. The company’s modern PlantPAx Distributed Control System (DCS) reduces implementation time and helps the industry to make better, faster decisions to respond more quickly to the demands of customers and fast-changing specifications.

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