A knack for green energy

With SIMATIC, biogas plants can be operated efficiently and reliably in all weather conditions.
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Challenge

Generating and using biogas in an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient manner

It is an important cornerstone of the German energy mix: Anyone traveling through the Diepholz district in the middle of the state of Lower Saxony inevitably passes numerous biogas plants in which manure and renewable resources are used for energy generation, for example in Scharringhausen, where Andy Dreyer operates two plants. He is also one of the two managing directors of SDS tec GmbH, which specializes in modernizing the automation systems of biogas plants - and, with its innovative solution for plant operation, has won over many customers much further afield than Lower Saxony.

Control units under endurance test

The harsh environment of biogas plants represents a real endurance test for operator control and monitoring devices. One of the key points in biogas plants are the infeed devices through which the biomass is fed into the fermenter. Precise dosing of the various raw materials is required in order to achieve the best possible gas yield. To this purpose, SDS tec uses special outdoor panels that can be operated reliably even in direct sunlight as well as in wet or cold conditions.

SDS tec has developed its own visualization that allows operators as well as SDS tec to have an optimum overview over all plant information. This means that the plants are easy to install and maintain. In addition, thanks to the integrated data archiving, plant operators can easily document which raw materials were used within the course of a year and thus fulfill the requirements for subsidy programs more easily.

Customer

Specialist in control cabinet design and biogas

"It all started with our own requirements", Andy Dreyer says, looking back on the time before he and Daniel Schwier founded the company SDS tec in 2010. "At the time, we quickly realized that we were not the only ones who wanted to modernize our biogas plant; there were many potential customers in the immediate vicinity and further afield. And so we founded a company with two pillars: The design of control cabinets and the automation of biogas plants. With a mix of operator know-how and automation expertise, SDS tec creates suitable solutions for its customers' requirements
Our customers appreciate the combination of operator know-how and control expertise.
Andy Dreyer, Managing Director SDS tec

Visualization from the point of view of the operator

The core business of SDS tec is the service and modernization of existing biogas plants. "It is important that we work flexibly and find the right solution for every plant, because the plants are similar but never identical: The type of infeed, the number and type of the stirrers differ from location to location. This is why we use modular blocks for the automation, so that we can map the requirements efficiently", explains Daniel Schwier, Managing Director of SDS tec and responsible for control technology.

Schwier also took the lead in developing the company's own visualization solution Visu, which SDS tec uses in the plants. "In this context, we implemented our requirements as biogas plant operators, but also realized the requests of our customers. The result: A solution that is easy to operate while nevertheless providing all the important functions, such as the data of the thermal power stations, simple routines for changing between manual and automatic operation, as well as comprehensive alarm and diagnostics functions".

Solution

For harsh conditions: Robust and intelligent solution with SIMATIC

The basis of the control technology in biogas plants is an integrated solution: SIMATIC WinCC for the plant visualization, SIMATIC S7-1500 Controller for controlling the plant components, and robust SIMATIC HMI Comfort Outdoor Panels for plant operation in outdoor areas. In this context, SDS tec benefits greatly from the common engineering of all components in the TIA Portal, which significantly facilitates the configuration of messages and alarms thanks to intelligent functions.
Benefit

Reliable operation and control

With the SIMATIC components, SDS tec not only uses a reliable and efficient solution; thanks to the future-proof system, they are also ideally prepared for further requirements and new trends.
When a customer installs a new solid material infeed unit in their plant, I can configure the PLC of the unit and integrate it into the visualization in just a few hours - more than twice as fast as other systems.
Daniel Schwier, Managing Director SDS tec
Further References

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