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GEA introduces new control system for centrifuges

GEA has introduced X Control, a new control system for centrifuges claimed to “elevate integration, connectivity, data processing and security to a new level”. The new X Control lays the foundation for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). This aims to make data collection and analysis easier, including self-optimisation of the entire system. The increased computing power will also improve integration into Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. In a statement announcing the launch, GEA said that cloud computing opens up possibilities for extended services such as provision of customised software functions. Dieter Hille, head of automation and controls at the GEA Business Unit Separation, said that machine controls have evolved rapidly in recent years. He added: “In the past, values were monitored and readjusted by hand or automated controllers. Today, we have reached a level where mass data is collected and analysed with the utmost precision. The next step is self-learning systems.” The new system provides the basis for the integration of AI algorithms, whereby the control system can recognise patterns and draw conclusions. It can use high computing power to implement new interfaces for integration into process line control systems. Hille said that this has an “enormous impact” on the ‘plug and produce’ capabilities of machines and components, as well as their communication with each other and optimal interaction. With the new control concept, GEA is increasingly relying on Module Type Package (manufacturer-independent communication between controls and systems). This enables users to adapt their processes faster and more efficiently to changing market requirements by integrating all process steps quickly and easily. Permanent connectivity allows both extensive process data storage outside the machine control system and linking with other relevant data for the machine and the process. Hille said that this makes calculations and evaluations more complex and precise, with knowledge gained then able to be transferred back to the machine control system as instructions. He added that resource conservation, such as water and energy savings and a verifiable CO2 footprint, can be recorded in more detail with GEA X Control. Customers can customise services by connecting to the GEA cloud and perform acute, planned and proactive services remotely as needed, alongside process analysis and optimisation or installation of new software functions. The new centrifuge control system will ensure ‘consisten harmonisation’ with other divisions, such as GEA Liquid & Powder Technologies. “The HMI is based on GEA Codex, a scalable automation solution for process control levels and product control systems developed by GEA LPT, which in turn is based on ISA 101,” said Hille. “This industry standard visualisation ensures vendor-independent compatibility. Standardisation also means speed gains in engineering. Customised applications can be implemented more quickly. In this way, the customer receives hardware and software from low cost to premium for the automation solution of their choice.” The GEA X Control generation includes various optional cyber security levels, adapted to specific customer requirements. Regular updates – similar to a computer operating system – ensure continuous security of the plant IT. It will be initially introduced for selected separator and decanter types for the dairy and renewables industry from the first quarter of 2024. During the year, other centrifuge types will follow, and by the end of the year, all new machines will be equipped with the new control system.

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