Safety a burning issue for control systems

March 01, 2008

Safety a burning issue for control systems

Traditional burner management technologies separate the control and safety electronics, making systems complicated and difficult to troubleshoot.

Surefire burner management

Burners are critical elements in process automation applications. HIMA supplies embedded burner management systems that control entire burning systems. These systems comply with requirements up to Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL 4) as defined in IEC 61508, the most stringent requirement for a safety-critical system. Some of these systems are installed at the BASF production plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, the world’s largest chemical production site. Traditional burner management technologies separate the control and safety electronics, making systems complicated and difficult to troubleshoot. The HIMatrix embedded system from HIMA combines both functionalities into one integrated system at much lower cost and with less complexity.

The HIMatrix system F30 (Figure 1, courtesy of HIMA) in the BASF application includes an embedded processor, several I/O modules (F3 series), and a display for operation control and monitoring. Instead of being mounted in a centralized, traditional cabinet, the system is located on an external platform close to the controlled burner.


Figure 1




A hardware comparator supervises dual embedded processors on each system card at nanosecond intervals, qualifying for SIL 3 in nonredundant systems. The electronic components have to operate within an environmental temperature range from 0 °C to +60 °C. HIMatrix systems are networked to one another using the Ethernet-based safeethernet protocol, a protocol certified by TUV (German Association for Technical Inspection) and optimized for safety and speed. MODBUS TCP and safeethernet communicate through a shared Ethernet network.

The embedded computer can be programmed over an Ethernet connection, eliminating the need for a programmer’s bus or interface. Programming is via a GUI using drag-and-drop object-level programming. The programming environment, ELOP II and runtime system, conforms to the IEC 61131-3 programming standard, including all safety-relevant functions. ELOP II is Windows 2000/XP compatible.

Hardware and software comply with several international and national safety requirements, including UL, TUV, and Lloyds Register. The F30/F3 series embedded systems are available in stainless steel enclosures (Type V2A) and certified for employment in Atmosphere Explosive (ATEX) Zone 2 environments or subsea applications in accordance with ISO 13628, Part 6 subsea production control systems. The ATEX Directive, which is associated with equipment and personnel working in potentially explosive atmospheres, considers hazardous concentrations of gas, vapor, mist, or dust in the air. The directive accounts for both electrical and mechanical ignition sources and determines the minimum requirements for improving the safety of workers at risk from explosive atmospheres.

Mobile communication innovators

Dr. Holger Boche and Dr. Martin Schubert from the Fraunhofer German-Sino Mobile Communications Institute in Berlin, Germany, and Beijing, China, received the Johann Philipp Reis award in November 2007 for solving a 40-year-old problem in mobile communication. Their work focused on optimal usage of limited mobile transmission bandwidth in several transmission channels using adaptive signal processing to reduce interference. High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) are applications using their technologies for data transmission up to 7.2 Mbps. By 2012, cell phone transmission rates of up to 100 Mbps may be possible using their algorithms. Transmission at 1 Gbps has already been accomplished in laboratory settings.

The award is named after Johann Philipp Reis, who developed the first electrical device for audio transmission using spoken words, which he called “telephon” (Greek: remote voice). He demonstrated his telephone on October 26, 1861, in Frankfurt, Germany. Reis did not patent his invention because there was no German patent office at that time. It was established in 1876, two years after his death and the same year Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone in the United States.


Hermann Strass (European Analyst)