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Distributed automation

Whether it's the production of pharmaceuticals or food, hygiene, safety and 24/7 monitorability are paramount. You can achieve these goals, for example, by automating your plant or machine in a distributed manner. This works for both new and existing installations and does not have to be complicated. Bürkert supports you with optimally coordinated, compact solutions that fit into existing structures and are flexible - after all, you have to think about tomorrow today and also consider future innovation steps in the context of digitisation. Discover just how easy it is to combine our wide range of components and integrate valve islands, control cabinets and process valves into an automation system. We advise you objectively, solution-neutrally and with a lot of experience.

  • Fotografische Darstellung eines komplexen Schaltschranks mit Ventilinseln, Kabeln, Rohren und Schläuchen
  • Fotografische Darstellung einer komplexen Anlage mit Schaltschränken, Kabeln, Rohren und Schläuchen
  • Grafische Darstellung eines Ausschnittes aus einem Förderband mit justierbarer Führung, Detaildarstellung Ventilinsel und Prozessventil
  • Grafische Darstellung eines Konzepts, das Schaltschrank mit SPS, Ventilinseln AirLine Field, Industrial Ethernet Gateway und Bürkert I/O-Module umfasst
  • Grafische Darstellung eines Förderbandes mit automtisert justierbarer Führung über Rollen und Pneumatik; Ventilinseln und gamit verbundenen Ventilen

When does the concept of distributed automation come into question for you?

  • If you need valves arranged densely in the system.
  • If you want a flexible formation of sub-systems.
  • If you want to subsequently automate individual process steps.

With the Bürkert system solution, the required components such as control cabinets or field modules and process valves are optimally matched to each other and can be smoothly connected with intelligent components. A pre-qualified platform facilitates both the planning and the engineering effort. The distributed automation concept can be expanded at any time with minimal effort.

Without control cabinet: Process reliability and product quality directly in the field

What is particularly important to you? Fast switching? The lowest cabling and tubing outlay as possible? The innovative AirLINE Field valve terminals from Bürkert offer both. Since you can install them directly near the process, the valves switch extremely quickly due to the short pneumatic travel distances. So you need less compressed air and energy at the same time. Distributed control enables you to quickly and accurately identify faults and to switch off individual modules instead of the whole plant. This saves costs and time.

Type 8653 AirLINE Field
Distributed automation without control cabinet / directly in the field

With control cabinet: Reliable automation in close proximity to the process

Do you want to automate the pneumatic functions of your plant? Bürkert valve terminals in a control cabinet are suitable for this. The valve island allows you to control processes via a network of single valves. This allows you to make your production processes not only more efficient, but also safer. This is because you detect errors at an early stage with the help of well thought-out diagnostic functions - on the unit and at the operational control level.

Control cabinet solutions – individually configurable
Distributed automation with control cabinet / close to the process

Manual solutions and their weaknesses

The advantages of automated process steps can best be understood with the help of an example. Therefore, in the following we will look at the extraction process for the production of sugar or sugar syrup: A conveyor belt transports the crushed sugar beet from the cutting machine to the extraction tower, where the juice is extracted. To prevent the beet pulp and the escaping juice from slipping off, the conveyor belt is equipped with adjustable guides that have to be shifted at short notice depending on the quantity and size of the mixture. This makes the passage larger or smaller. In a conventional manufacturing process, employees have to manually operate cylinders to bring the guides into the correct position.

High amount of or large beet pulp
Small amount of or small beet pulp
Outgoing goods
Juice extraction

Process reliability with a distributed automation concept

To automate a manual process step such as the described correction of the conveyor belt, a distributed automation concept with components in hygienic design is an innovative solution. In the example shown here, the cylinders from a third-party supplier are pneumatically controlled with the AirLINE Field type 8653. The feedback signals on the cylinder are simply connected to the ME64 digital input module via an M12 cable. The pneumatic module type 8653 (IP65/IP67) can be placed close to the cylinder for a fast reaction or switching time. The ME63 gateway is connected via EtherNet/IP to the control cabinet and to the central PLC/SCAD system: This has a big advantage: The operator no longer has to go to the cylinder and manually operate a pneumatic distributor. On the contrary: The operator can check centrally whether the cylinder is open or closed and adjust it individually if necessary.

Industrial Ethernet
The Industrial Ethernet Gateway Type ME63 represents the central control unit for Bürkert products.
Bürkert I/O modules (In/ Out) Type ME64 are used to register switching signals from different sensors.

The advantages of the Bürkert system solution

Bürkert consulting service based on an example

Solution 1: Hygienic control cabinets with distance to the actual process

Sometimes the environmental conditions are harsh. Dust, humidity, cold or heat can take their toll on automated systems. That is why Bürkert offers the "Hygienic Design" according to IP67 degree of protection in stainless steel. It is not only extremely resistant to cleaning agents, but also seals off the valve islands in the control cabinet against all environmental influences. In addition, the completely enclosed control cabinets, which are usually located relatively far away from the actual process, provide a plus in work and process safety by preventing employees from accidentally loosening wires or other elements.

Advantages due to distance from the process:
  1. Completely enclosed control cabinets are located away from the process for safety reasons
  2. Valve islands are perfectly protected from environmental influences in the control cabinet
  3. Process safety increases because accidental operating errors are ruled out
Schaltschrank mit intelligenten Prozessventilen


 Solution 2: Small control cabinet and distributed devices directly in the field

The counter design is: as close as possible to the process. The smaller control cabinets of this solution require less space in the system and can therefore be placed in the immediate vicinity of the action. The field devices that are to benefit from the fast valve switching times are also located there. Wiring and piping are particularly compact, so less compressed air is needed to operate the valves. At the same time, the automation system is extremely flexible: If further cylinders are to be connected later, this solution enables simple and fast integration.

Advantages of distributed devices:
  1. Small control cabinets can be positioned close to the field devices and the actual production process
  2. Short wiring ensures fast valve switching times and low compressed air consumption
  3. Flexible concept enables further cylinders to be connected at a later date
Schematische Darstellung eines Ausschnitts einer Anlage mit Ventilinseln und verbundenen Ventilen


In the specific example, the customer chose solution 1, because his plant is exposed to harsh weather conditions. Which is your solution? We will be happy to provide you with consultation.



Process automation in practice

Many of our customers already successfully control their plants with Bürkert solutions for distributed automation. In the following user reports, you will learn how you can digitise, optimise and make production processes particularly safe with distributed automation.



Decentralised automationDecentralised automation

Your food or pharmaceutical production processes must be efficient, safe and hygienic. To ensure the processing of valuable raw materials without residues and cross-contamination, to ensure constant product quality and not to risk downtime, digital process monitoring is essential. The easiest way to achieve this is with decentralised automation solutions that can control intelligent components locally and react quickly. To ensure that such a valve technology of short distances fits optimally into your existing machine or system concepts, we advise you objectively and have solution-neutral offers ready for you. In the process, we reduce everything you can do without to a minimum: complexity, risk and engineering effort. We will be more than happy to advise you!