Glimpses of Pilz Annual Digital Press Conference held on 16th May 2024

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Pilz India - logoPilz is known the world over as a global supplier of safe automation products, systems and services. The company offers solutions for complete automation of plant and machinery, while also supplying individual safety technology components which are open, modular and can easily be integrated into the existing automation environment.

Pilz recently organized its Annual Digital Press Conference.which was attended by the world press. In his thought-provoking address, Thomas Pilz, Managing Partner, Pilz dealt with Industry in Transformation.  He opined that the industry is undergoing a process of transformation. Digitisation and sustainability are the drivers of a changing industry. Digitisation in industry leads to the networking of production systems. The risk of manipulation (intentional or otherwise) or data leakage increases with the level of networking. As opposed to IT Security, Industrial Security describes the protection of production and industrial plants from intentional attacks on the availability of plant and machinery. In contrast, the task of functional safety is to protect against dangerous states that are generated unintentionally, he pointed out. I would like to refer back to last year’s press conference: The objective of Industrial Security is to guarantee the availability of plant and machinery, as well as the integrity and confidentiality of machine data and processes.

“If I am not in control of my data, then the safety of my employees is also at risk: there’s no Safety without Security, and without Safety, people are not protected from accidents! As a result, a digital transformation of the production process cannot succeed without Security,”he remarked.

Narrating the success story of Pilz, Susanne Kunschert, Managing Partner said 2023 was a very successful year for the group. The company ended the financial year with a record turnover of 433 million Euro.

She reviewed the performance of each region viz. Europe, Asia, and Americas and said that overall, the markets in North, Central and South America appear strong, and also offer good prospects for growth for 2024. In terms of the range of products and solutions, Pilz was able to achieve similar growth in almost every area. The safe small controllers PNOZmulti, sensor technology and services were particularly strong performers.

“With the products and services that we have marketed in recent months, we have taken into account the requirements of Safety and Security, but that’s not all. Our automation solutions help to save time and costs over the whole machine lifecycle. That ensures productivity,” she explained..

Outlook for 2024 financial year

Dwelling on the outlook for the next financial year, she said, “2024 will be a challenging year; indeed there are signs of a reversal. We started with a low order intake, which means low utilisation of production capacity. And we must assume that, due to overstocking and the resulting running down of stocks, the situation will remain the same in the next few months.

Our innovative products and services will take us into next year. And our employees at head office and worldwide burn with enthusiasm for the issues they work on in the service of our customers.”

Safety and Security in transformation

In yet another presentation, Thomas Pilz emphasized:  “Pilz is an automation company. Our core competence is safety. Every day, our mission is to make the world more digital, connected, flexible, efficient, safe and secure. We want to contribute towards ensuring that the transformation of industry can succeed.

Certain industries are affected more strongly by this transformation than others, because they will play a key role in tackling the tasks ahead. These include hydrogen, E-mobility, the semiconductor industry and also railway technology.

Key hydrogen industry needs safety

“Hydrogen has a high energy density and is thus considered the energy carrier of the future. With this boom, the requirements for functional safety and Industrial Security are also increasing. Because hydrogen – like all fuels – harbours high potential hazards. Tested and available safety principles from the automation industry and functional safety can also be applied to the hydrogen industry.

Safe automation technology can take on additional tasks in addition to the classic safety functions, such as dynamic pressure and temperature monitoring or safe adherence to the load limits of downstream structures. Automation also guarantees safe data exchange and the visualisation of operating conditions and diagnostic messages, where applicable.

In France, our automation system PSS 4000 already guarantees safety when hydrogen is dispensed at 10 public filling stations. The customer, a European manufacturer of hydrogen refuelling stations, was looking for an experienced safety expert. Pilz has been working in partnership with the customer since 2023, and has delivered a comprehensive safety solution, which simultaneously guarantees that the filling stations operate economically. There are currently plans to expand the cooperation to other projects.”

Automation solutions for the hydrogen industry

Lambertus Monnee, Product Manager, Pilz made an insightful presentation on ‘Automation Solutions for the hydrogen industry. It went on like this:

“Everyone is talking about hydrogen! The energy carrier plays a crucial role in the energy turnaround and climate neutrality. It is used in industry, for example, when steelmaking, in the glass industry, for mobility as fuel for transport vehicles or for electricity reconversion. However, there are safety risks involved with hydrogen because the gas is highly flammable, as well as colourless and odourless. Accidents during production, transport or use can have major consequences for human, plant and environment. So to make hydrogen sustainable, the way it is handled must be completely safe and secure. That is the only way to fully exploit the energy carrier’s potential.

In the hydrogen industry, the solutions to safety tasks frequently involve material properties and mechanical dimensioning. The more robust the shut-off valves, for example, the safer they are to use. Proven solutions from automation technology can be a valuable addition to these classic safety functions. That’s because they help to always consider safety as an integral function of the plant, machinery and the correlations in the process. Automation solutions can take on the task of dynamic pressure and temperature monitoring or safe adherence to the load limits of downstream structures, for example.

From the hydrogen production process through to its use – holistic safety solutions from Pilz offer added value for the whole added value chain for hydrogen. Our control systems reliably detect gas leaks through the evaluation of gas detectors. They safely monitor temperature, pressure, fill level, voltage and current. And in an emergency the systems initiate an emergency stop. They can detect faults within milliseconds and quickly initiate pre-defined safety measures.

These safety functions are essential on a hydrogen refuelling station, for example. This comprises a compression area in which the gas can be compressed up to 1000 bar, a cooling system, high-pressure storage tanks and finally the fuel pump. In France, our automation system PSS 4000 already guarantees safety when hydrogen is dispensed at several public filling stations.

IO-Link Safety: How safe connectivity scores points at field level

Matthias Wolfer, Product Management chose to deal with IO-Link Safety.  Here’s a gist of what he presented:

“Today, when we talk about industrial communication, it should be possible to achieve safe data transfer up to the “last” sensor. This applies in particular to devices at field level. Greater availability and a more flexible automation are the objective. Since 2018, Pilz has heavily promoted the development of communication technology as part of the IO-Link Safety Consortium: under Pilz’s leadership, the technology working group has developed the specifications and carried out testing and certification. The common goal of this “new” safe connectivity is to optimise production processes.

Pilz provides holistic support to the packaging industry

In yet another engrossing presentation, Bernd Müller, Senior Manager Business Development, portrayed the holistic support Pilz gives to the packaging industry. He said: “The requirements of the packaging industry include the necessary flexibility and, above all, high productivity with short downtimes, for maintenance for example. And very high process speeds. That’s exactly why the operator must be protected from the hazards of the machine. It’s very important that downtimes for setup, operation and maintenance are low. And when the packaging machines are delivered, they should perform their ‘on site’ tasks efficiently, reliably and safely. Machine builders must implement a reliable and sustainable automation and safety concept, even as the machine is being designed. The Machinery Directive and new Machinery Regulation form the basis.”

All in all, the press conference was fully power packed, discussing safety and security in the industry threadbare, and enlightening the participants on the emerging technologies and the 360 degree technology solutions offered by Pilz, worldwide.

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