Eurotherm by Schneider Electric is a global manufacturer of instrumentation, systems and services designed for the efficient operation of industrial processes. Since 1965 the Eurotherm brand has provided specialised solutions for energy intensive and regulated industries, and today, continues to design and manufacture configurable precision machine, process and power controllers, and associated data recorders that enable its customers to get the most from their process.
R&D investment is focused on applications where the company’s core precision control and secure recording expertise provides the most value to the customer. Typical industries of focus are those with energy intensive processes that require a level of precision process control to get the most from energy use, and regulated industries that require a comprehensive process information trail, to instill process responsibility and aid conformance to set standards.
History of Eurotherm
Founded in 1965 as a temperature control manufacturer by an innovative group of directors in Worthing, West Sussex, UK, the company soon expanded into adjacent technology areas. Independent companies were set up to manufacture Data Recorders (Chessell Ltd), Control Systems (TCS / Turnbull Control Systems), and Variable Speed Industrial Drives (SSD / Shackleton System Drives). All four companies achieved international success and in 1974 were brought under a single international holding company, Eurotherm International.
In 1978, Eurotherm International became a public entity, listed on the local stock exchange, then in 1998 it was acquired by Siebe plc, later to become Invensys plc.
By the late 1990s, the Controls, Recorders (previously Chessell) and Process Automation (previously TCS) businesses amalgamated to form Eurotherm Limited.
In 2009, Eurotherm, along with the Invensys businesses Foxboro, IMServ Europe Ltd, Skelta, Triconex and Wonderware, formed Invensys Operations Management, a provider of automation and information technologies, systems, software, services, and consulting on industrial manufacturing and infrastructure.
Invensys was acquired by Schneider Electric in January 2014 and Eurotherm became Eurotherm by Schneider Electric, part of the Specialised Devices line of business within Schneider Electric.
Eurotherm by Schneider Electric celebrates its 50th year in 2015 which is an impressive milestone for any business.
“The success we have had over the last 50 years is really about two things”, says Chris Ashworth Vice President at Eurotherm, “our innovation as a company and our people. We have a talented and knowledgeable employee base globally that includes segment and application experts, who support both our sales organisation and our customers. We have an innovative research and product development group implementing new technologies for our focus industries, alongside world class manufacturing operations. Since 2014, we also have the global powerhouse of Schneider Electric to further strengthen our offerings.”
Eurotherm instrumentation, systems and services
From its global headquarters in Worthing, West Sussex, UK, and further sites worldwide, the company now provides five main product streams:
- Discrete process and temperature controllers (industrial indicators and PID controllers)
- Power controllers - SCRs (Silicon Controlled Rectifiers) and SSRs (Solid State Relays)
- Data recorders and data acquisition systems
- Process automation systems - PACs (Process Automation Controllers) and HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces)
- Signal conditioners and probes
Manufacturing sites include Worthing (UK), Tychy (Poland) and Rockford, IL (US), with global sales and engineering support covered by a network of subsidiaries and agents across Europe, USA and Asia. Euroitherm global services include design, build and installation of industrial automation systems, plus engineering support services including maintenance, calibration and training.
Discrete Process and Temperature Controllers
Eurotherm’s expertise lies in its PID based control strategies that contain algorithms perfected over the past 50 years. These unique applications embedded in nearly all of their control products are specifically designed for processes that need very stable, precise temperature control, such as the manufacturing of plastic and glass and other sensitive materials. Eurotherm have also specialised in applications that need to comply to stringent industrial standards, for example FDA standards in pharmaceutical manufacturing and the life science industry, and CQI9 and AMS2750E standards for the heat treatment of metals in the automotive and aerospace industries. Their control products and software provide solutions with precision control features, such as easy to use function blocks and thermal profiling programs that keep the process at specified temperatures during programmed ramps and dwells.
For the control of electrical heating or other switching applications, Eurotherm provide everything from Solid State Relays (SSR) to multiphase Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR) thyristor power controller assemblies. Eurotherm power controllers utilise a variety of control methods to deliver the precise amount of power required by different types of heater loads. Particularly useful in high energy processes where electricity savings need to be made, specific control methods can be chosen that provide a cleaner power signal to the equipment in the process. Reducing electrical noise in this way improves the measurements made by the electricity supplier in order to calculate charges, and also results in less mechanical vibrations in the system, extending the life of the equipment and improving the quality of the made product. The most advanced Eurotherm power controllers also contain special algorithms unique to Eurotherm that control the distribution of energy across different loads in plant installations. Applying this method keeps the energy consumed under a maximum power level specified by the utility supplier by anticipating the energy requirements and managing the priority of loads. This prevents the costly surcharges associated with exceeding set power limits.
The recording of process data is becoming more important due to the drive for more efficient processes. By logging the process data (plus other attributes such as energy consumed, quality output, throughput etc.) it is then possible to analyse areas of potential improvements, make adjustments and record the effects of the change – the typical PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act). In some industries it is necessary not just to record the data but to make it secure from tampering, and archive it securely to meet industrial standards. Eurotherm has many years of experience in the field of secure data acquisition and archiving which has been embedded into its products and software. Recording strategies save data in tamper resistant file formats that are stored within the product for retrieval and archiving over digital communication networks. If communications are lost, the data is securely retained in the product until re-connection, at which time the data is seamlessly streamed to the secure archive database. Operator activity can also be logged, and permissions managed by electronic signature, providing a secure audit trail to assist with regulations such as FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and 21 CFR Part 113. This type of recording and archiving method helps manufacturers in the heat treatment, life science and food & beverage industries comply with their industry guidelines and standards, and also provides valuable data for the reporting of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Automated systems that need high availability (in situations where shutdown would either create a safety issue or the loss of significantly high value product) typically require a secondary redundant system to take control of the process in the case of an unplanned event. Eurotherm provide a Process Automation Controller (PAC) system to which a redundant processor module can easily be added. Programming of the redundant module can be done at the touch of a button, and the built in Eurotherm strategy in the secondary unit will automatically take over the control of the process in the event of an unplanned event.
Eurotherm also offer a variety of HMIs for visualisation and user intervention of systems.
Signal Conditioners and Probes
The Eurotherm signal conditioner range includes high accuracy amplifiers, signal splitters, sensor conditioner outputs, ground isolators and current loop drivers, certified for use in demanding industrial environments such as explosive atmospheres.
A range of sensors and accessories including thermocouples and RTDs are available to suit plastic, heat treatment, glass, F&B and life science applications. For atmosphere control in furnace applications, Eurotherm provide carbon and oxygen probes with a special soot cleaning feature that extends the life and reduces maintenance of the probe.
Systems and Services
The company provides its innovative solutions across a broad spectrum of markets including heat treatment, glass, plastics, life science, food & beverage, oil & gas, power and water. This industry expertise, combined with control, recording and automation knowledge enables engineers to deliver a wide range of automation systems and engineering support services, designed to improve the performance and effectiveness of customers’ plant-wide assets. Through utilization of application specific functions built into Eurotherm products that automatically calculate and control vital parameters, Eurotherm systems are able to precisely control processes such as the application of gasses in heat treatment furnaces (for example, Zirconia probe measurement, 3 Gas IR spectroscopy, and online diffusion for carburizing), melt pressure and parison control for plastics manufacturing machines, bushing and boosting control in the manufacture of glass, and sterilizer control in the life science industry.
From small bespoke projects to global systems with 24/7 service level agreements, projects can be based on Eurotherm, Schneider Electric, or third party products and software. After sales support includes accredited services such as TUS (Temperature Uniformity Surveys), SAT (System Accuracy Tests) and calibration contracts that meet the requirements of specific industry standards like AMS2750E (NADCAP) and CQI9 in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Eurotherm at work and in the community
Eurotherm promotes “a great place to work” culture and would not be as successful as it is today without its dedicated workforce, many of whom are longstanding members of staff. The company supports its 750 employees in charity activities both in-house and in the local community. Schools, colleges and science fairs are supported by the company’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassadors, who inspire young people into the fun world of engineering. Eurotherm also takes an active role in under-graduate work placement programs, with many of its former students now in full time employment at Eurotherm.
Staff are encouraged to engage in team building, Continuous Improvement (CI) and Lean Manufacturing activities to help improve their working environment and efficiency. The business invests significantly in Research and Development, allowing innovation ideas to come from all areas and levels of the business.