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Valve island basics: Definition, design and advantages

Bürkert has been a reliable expert in the field of valve islands since 1992. But what is a valve island? And what advantages does it offer compared to a single valve architecture? Discover everything you need to know about valve islands in this article.

What is a valve island?

In the field of pneumatics, a valve island is seen as a combination of several single valves which are combined by a central power and air supply and connected to a programmable logic controller (PLC).

Valve island: design & function

Valve islands are used to control a certain number of valves and their signal processing. For example, pneumatically controlled actuators (e.g. process valves) can be switched by means of air pressure and in turn control and regulate fluids. As with a single valve, an electrical signal is converted into a pneumatic signal.

Valve islands generally consist of a communication module, a pneumatic module and various ports.

Communication module
Pneumatic module
Pneumatic ports
Status and diagnostic display
Feedback inputs
Feedback inputs are digital inputs. They connect actuators to the valve island.

Explanation of valve island elements using valve island AirLINE Type 8652 as an example

Modules & ports 

Areas of application

Valve islands are used in both process and factory automation. In the field of process automation, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries as well as the food & beverage industry now seem unimaginable without them.

In the context of Industry 4.0, valve islands are increasingly being used as electro-pneumatic automation systems in combination with various diagnostic functions. As a result, they are always used when high demands are placed on the automation and/or operational safety of the entire system. The advantages of these “units” come to the fore both in compact machines and in large plants with a wide array of valves.

Valve island with siemens simatic et200 sp


Normally, valve islands are installed in control cabinets in a space-saving manner within the framework of central or distributed automation concepts. For example, process valves and various other actuators can be controlled from a central location.

Use in areas at risk of explosion

The use of electrotechnical devices in areas at risk of explosion is only possible to a limited extent. When the devices are switched, sparks may occur which can lead to the ignition of explosive air-gas mixtures.

Valve islands therefore represent a wise solution for controlling process valves in these areas in a distributed manner using air. They can be installed in ATEX Zone 2 with appropriate approval. Our valve island  Type 8650 is even approved for use in Zone 1 areas at risk of explosion in accordance with ATEX.

Valve island application in waterworks

In waterworks, as a rule, each water treatment step is automated independently using its own components and control cabinets in order to guarantee permanent availability and quality control of the drinking water.

Valve Islands in Waterworks

Valve islands for production plants with cleaning processes

Process valve clusters are common in production plants that contain a “Clean in Place” cleaning process. The use of valve islands is particularly suitable for these applications, as the efficient control of several process valves can be ensured as a result.

Machines and systems, which are also cleaned externally, require sufficient protection of the electronic components against aggressive media. As a rule, the valve islands are therefore installed in control cabinets. Furthermore, centralisation reduces the installation effort.

Functional integration on the valve island

With the aid of bus systems, various electrical, pneumatic and mechanical functions can be integrated into a valve island. This so-calledfunctional integration transforms the valve island into an electro-pneumatic automation system. This allows valve circuits with diagnostic functions and pressure sensors, for example, to be combined in one device and connected to the higher-level controller. Depending on the target application, suitable functions can be specifically selected and combined, thereby leading to a reduction in costs.

Our valve islands can also be connected directly to distributed peripheral systems. This allows deeper integration into the higher-level controller and control system level.

Valve island installation in a control cabinet

With Bürkert Type 8647, the pneumatic valve island is directly integrated into the distributed peripheral systems SIMATIC ET 200SP & ET 200SP HA This facilitates start-up and also improves system monitoring. The entire process chain thus benefits from the functional integration.  


Compared to automation using single valves, valve islands offer numerous advantages. Not only installation effort, but also costs can be reduced through their application. For example, only one central, pneumatic compressed air supply is required to control a large number of valve functions.

Since valve islands combine the communication and automation of many valves in just one device, software installation and programming are also much simpler. For example, valves do not have to be parameterised individually, but can be configured within a network.

The extensive diagnostic functions, such as wire break and short-circuit monitoring or the counting of switching cycles, also help to optimise plant operation. This allows valves to be serviced at the right time and, in the event of a fault, rapid identification and troubleshooting is possible.

Bürkert – your expert for valve islands

Since 1992 we have been a reliable expert for valve islands and have already established numerous devices with industry-specific functions in the field of process automation.
In addition, the many years of cooperation with Siemens have resulted in several application-specific valve islands.

The latest valve island generation is equipped with various helpful additional functions. This allows numerous diagnostic functions to be monitored and displayed both on the LC display and in the PLC.
Discover more about our most popular valve islands in our product overview.

Bürkert valve islands in practice

Many of our customers rely on Bürkert for their plant automation. Here you will find selected customer references that provide an insight into various projects and their backgrounds.

New automation solution for insulin production - ZETA Biopharma GmbH


ZETA Biopharma GmbH relies on Bürkert for its fermentation plants for insulin production. Twenty valve islands Type 8647 are used in this field. Discover in our customer reference how this came about and why Bürkert was chosen.
Discover more about the project with ZETA Biopharma GmbH.

Plant modernisation in an explosion protection environment with Type 8650 at Huntsman Textile Effects GmbH


The textile chemicals company Huntsman produces finishing chemicals for various textiles. Discover in our customer reference how the amount of required space in the control cabinet was reduced and at the same time the operational safety of the plant improved.
Use our customer reference to discover more about the project with Huntsman Textile Effects GmbH.

F3 Factory Project – Bayer Technology Services

As a supplier in the F3 Factory Project, we developed a holistic concept for the automation of processes with valve islands and remote I/O systems in close cooperation with Bayer Technology Services.
Use our customer reference to discover more about the project with Bayer Technology Services.