White paper: Standardization is key to the successful implementation of modular plants

Modular plant concepts are globally on the rise in order to shorten development and product cycles in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The White Paper Modular Plants, written by the temporary ProcessNet working group of the same name, gives an overview on current developments based on project evaluations. The authors from industry and academia call for a standardization of both nomenclature and equipment in order to enable a broad application of modu-larization in process engineering. The white paper is currently available in English; a German version will follow.

In the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, individualized products are gaining in importance, resulting in shortened development and product life cycles. Existing production environments can fulfill the increasing flexibility requirements only partly. Modular plants offer the opportunity to design flexible and adaptable processes. In addition, the recyclability of the individual com-ponents and the significantly reduced planning effort due to less required engineering are the main advantages of this approach.

Research projects such as F3 Factory or the ENPRO initiative have proven that the successful application of this kind of process design is viable. Nonetheless, this is a completely new approach. In order to reach the goal of a completely modular designed and built plant, a lot of effort especially regarding the standardization of equipment and automation technology is necessary. At his point, the White Paper „Modular Plants – Flexible chemical production by modularization and standardization - status quo and future trends“ of the temporaray ProcessNet working group “Modular plants” comes in. The document was developed in close collaboration of industry and research institutions and reflects the current status of the joint effort for the improvement of the applicability of modularization in plant engineering for the chemical industry. Hurdles and potential development pathways are described and the strengths of modularization are set against its risks. In addition, the required research and funding efforts are identified that are necessary for the further implementation of modular plant concepts. The paper is available for download free of charge.