Improving sustainability by closing industrial water cycles

Driven by sustainability: EnviroFALK GmbH designs and manufactures process water treatment plants for all sectors. To ensure customer plants operate reliably and treat water with the required quality, it uses systems like LOGO! and SIMATIC S7-1200 for its automation tasks.

Sustainability starts with the small things: Using string bags instead of plastic bags for weekly fresh food purchases, glass bottles instead of plastic for drinks, and washable kitchen towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen. These are steps we can all take with very little effort. Sustainable living also includes improving our awareness of the fact that resources like water are growing scarcer. Although two-thirds of the planet is covered with water, only 0.3 percent of it is drinkable.
 

That means it’s essential to go easy on water consumption, both in private households and in industry, in order to preserve this resource for current and future generations. Water-intensive industries like the glass, automobile, and paper industries need vast amounts of process water in their production facilities. Treating and reusing water from production processes are both essential for sustainability, and both offer huge potential.

EnviroFALK GmbH, based in Westerburg in Rhineland-Palatinate, was quick to recognize this potential. Starting out in 1989 as a small garage-based company, it has grown into a business with a staff of 250, and focuses on designing and manufacturing systems to treat process water for industrial and commercial entities, in addition to lab and medical technology.

The EnviroFALK GmbH

EnviroFALK GmbH, based in Westerburg, has been a member of Envirogruppe, alongside EnviroChemie and EnviroDTS, since 2006. Established in 1989, the company has expanded in the past 31 years to a staff of 250 covering ten locations. Its presence in these various locations means EnviroFALK can assure its customers of fast and reliable service via a decentralized service network. Westerburg is home to the regeneration center for ion exchangers. These components are core elements for fully or partially desalinating fresh and process water, and if they are worn out, EnviroFALK will recondition them using the latest technology and in-plant water cycles.

Customized plant construction needs flexible components

EnviroFALK’s customers come from many different sectors, including the automobile industry, surface technology, the electronics industry, and medical technology. Its buyers also include industrial kitchen manufacturers, for example. The products represented by these sectors couldn’t be more varied, but there’s one thing they have in common: They need water of a particular quality level for their industrial manufacturing processes, and that’s where the water treatment plants from EnviroFALK come in.

 

Many of EnviroFALK’s orders involve individual plant construction. It works closely with its customers and aligns the treatment process to what they specifically require of their process water (in terms of properties and content, for example). To ensure its customers get systems that are highly reliable, EnviroFALK decided at a very early stage to use control technology from Siemens, such as LOGO! to provide an uncomplicated and space-saving solution for control and feedback systems, and SIMATIC S7-1200 as a compact yet flexible controller solution.

The right controller for every system

“We use LOGO! for most standardized systems, such as medical and lab technology, or industrial kitchens,” says Lutz Bohmerich, Managing Director Technology at EnviroFALK.  “These require fewer processing stages.” In many cases, these involve smaller-scale cabinet systems that are very compact and user-friendly. Although the logic module itself is installed in the control cabinet, plant operators can quickly check system status or identify error messages using the LOGO! TDE control panel on the cabinet door.

 

The SIMATIC S7-1200 controller is used to meet control and feedback requirements for large-scale treatment plants involving multiple treatment stages and processing large volumes of analog signals. The more treatment stages there are connected in series, and the higher the quality demands on the treated water, the more complex the plant becomes. That’s where the controller comes to the fore. Display functions at machine level are provided by 7 to 15-inch SIMATIC HMI Comfort Panels.

Examples showing what LOGO! can do

LOGO! and SIMATIC S7-1200 perform different tasks as part of the water treatment process. Some of these can be explained using a simple cabinet system as an example. The process water first passes through the initial stage: softening. An alarm contact on the softener communicates error messages to the controller, and these are then displayed to the operator using screen colors and text. The soft water obtained through the softening process then undergoes reverse osmosis, in which a high-pressure pump forces the water through a membrane, resulting in  water with a very low salt content. LOGO! constantly monitors and analyzes the pump pressure: If it’s too low, a warning message will show, and if it’s too high, the system will automatically power down and the controller will issue the appropriate alarm. In the penultimate stage, the water is directed to a buffer tank, where LOGO! constantly measures the fill level and switches on the controller for the reverse osmosis pump to top up the tank with water, or off once the programmed water level is reached. The water can then be pumped from the reservoir to the manufacturing location where it will be used.

Protecting the environment with flexible plant manufacture

The choice of which plant will use a SIMATIC S7-1200 controller and which will use a LOGO! system depends on more than just the size of the plant, as Bohmerich explains: “Even a small and supposedly simple plant can turn out to be very complex at the control and feedback level.” SIMATIC S7-1200 and LOGO! have comparable functions within a plant, but the SIMATIC’s functions are much more extensive, providing frequency regulation for the pumps, more process stages to treat the water even further, and an ability to process even more analog signals. Which of the two controllers to use in which plant will always depend on the application in question and the water quality required.

 

“Our company wouldn’t exist if there were no interest in sustainability and environmental protection,” comments Bohmerich. “Since it was established, the main driver for our company has been to develop systems that will save water and treat it so it can be recycled.” One particular difficulty is that different countries and industries apply different standards that treated water and the treatment process must satisfy. In lab and medical technology, for example, it’s important to differentiate between processed water for use in and for use on the human body . That means the plants used for process water treatment must be highly flexible, which reliable and powerful controllers can help guarantee.