Hirtler has implemented Euchner's Electronic-Key-System for controlling and monitoring operator access at various processes within its soap production plant.
Passwords have traditionally been used as the way to maintain safety and security as well as monitor critical processing operations. However, the Electronic-Key-System (EKS) equipment now available from Euchner provides a level of monitoring and control that meets high standards. It provides secure user identification without the use of passwords, and has been used successfully in harsh industrial environments, including machine guarding, with widespread use in the automotive industry. Moreover, applications for monitoring complex process operations involving multi-operator access are now becoming more common.
Hirtler GmbH has integrated an EKS system into each of six process terminals within its soap production facility. Dedicated Electronic-Keys have been issued to all system users, assigning selected access rights to each individual while maintaining authorised conditions for critical process chain parameters. The soap manufacturing plant at Hirtler is highly automated and comprises a large number of separate processes. The requirement was that not all employees in the different process areas should have complete access to all process data. Due to networking of individual servers, it was important to only give employees access rights to process control systems for their related job functions at individual locations.
The monitoring of all process data is, in principle, possible with the EKS, but can be reduced to the area in which a specific operator works. Error messages and process chain malfunctions related to a production segment are identified for appropriate operators, with all changes saved and fully traceable to relevant employees. Key management can be undertaken on-site or remotely via a separate PC workstation. At Hirtler, Ethernet data exchange between clients and EKS Electronic-Key adapters can also be performed in production areas connected to the server, currently limited to 20 defined access rights but with the potential for future expansion.
EKS comprises two components: an Electronic-Key and the matching Electronic-Key adapter. The Electronic-Key, in the form of a robust tag, contains a memory chip and an antenna. This is a transponder without a battery that transmits its information inductively, and therefore without contact, to evaluation electronics in the Electronic-Key adapter. At the start of any operation, the Electronic-Key is inserted in the Electronic-Key adapter; traceability is therefore guaranteed. In normal operation, login can be controlled simply by inserting the Electronic-Key and logoff by removing the Electronic-Key. The memory in the Electronic-Key in general contains a range of important information such as name, department and, very importantly, the varying levels of access rights.