Picture from M4P.AC Copyright: © Martin Braun

A modular principle is increasingly becoming the desired construction method during the creation of new plants, since it shortens the implementation period of new products and reduces the capital costs of newly created plants. This construction method also intends to reduce the planning efforts that are required for a new plant by combining suitable modules that have already been developed with appropriate ready-made modules.

Currently, the modularization of plants is mostly driven by process engineering. At present, there is a lack of suitable concepts for the automation of a modular process plant. In order to develop and validate such concepts, the Chair of Process Control technology is currently establishing the modular plant M4P.AC.

The modules of M4P.AC (Modular, Mobile, Multi-Purpose, Multi Experience Plant) are pillars of a hexagonal base area. Hence, they allow a tight packaging but also provide enough contact surfaces for the transfer of media. Each module fulfills at least one process-based base operation and is able to operate autonomously. Each module holds its own automation software and structural information. The continuous use of a service-oriented architecture ensures a high level of flexibility with respect to different software structures. This allows the implementation and validation of diverse automation concepts for modular plants.