BASF Completes Successful Ethernet-APL Tests with ABB DCS

April 12, 2024
In its first greenfield Ethernet-APL project in Europe, BASF required potential suppliers to conduct Ethernet-APL performance tests before final contracts were awarded.

Following the success of BASF’s first greenfield Ethernet Advanced Physical Layer (Ethernet-APL) project in Europe, which involved the testing of more than 200 connected devices, 10 field switches and multiple control systems to prove Ethernet-APL’s viability, ABB has been awarded distributed control system (DCS) contracts by BASF.

Ethernet-APL describes a physical layer for the Ethernet communication technology that is designed especially for the requirements of process industries, such as high data communication speeds over long distances, power and communication transmission through a single cable and protective measures for safe use in hazardous areas. Ethernet-APL reportedly enables faster, seamless communication between field devices in a process plant, while maintaining the intrinsic safety built into the systems.

According to ABB, “Ethernet-APL is highly robust for extremely reliable operation. Ethernet has long been the standard IT communication solution, while Industrial Ethernet has been the variant of this standard for the process industries. Ethernet-APL bridges the gap between the two.”

A key aspect of BASF’s first greenfield Ethernet-APL project in Europe required potential suppliers to conduct Ethernet-APL performance tests before final contracts were awarded. These tests were completed in March 2023 and following their success, BASF placed its order for ABB’s DCS shortly after.

The successful performance tests were executed by ABB using ABB’s Ability System 800xA equipment under realistic production equipment environments. These tests allowed BASF to evaluate the APL technology’s performance, integration capabilities and maintainability in the overall automation system.

Dr. Emanuel Trunzer, BASF automation engineer at the Center of Technical Expertise for Automation Technology, said, “These tests were done to demonstrate the functioning and robustness of a Profinet network via Ethernet-APL on a realistic plant scale. This was a great value add to previous lab-scale testing and was essential to gain user acceptance and confidence in this technology.”

“We have been working for about five years with industry partners to drive this technology forward, and now we have proven APL’s operational readiness. As a result of these tests, we are now planning to equip new BASF plants in Europe with this technology,” added Gerd Niedermayer, senior E+I engineering manager at BASF.

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