Digital ID for industrial valves14 November 2022

To further drive digitisation in the process industry, manufacturers should supply clearly identifiable devices and make standardised product data available digitally. The DIN SPEC 91406/IEC 61406 and VDI 2770 standards provide support in this regard. For example, AS-Schneider labels its valves with a QR code to give customers easy access to valve specifications and technical documents. By Michael Hasselbach, digital innovation lab expert at valve manufacturer AS-Schneider

No more printed drawings, certificates, test documents, and maintenance and installation manuals for new products, is the vision. Large quantities of paper are neither sustainable nor up to date in the age of digitalisation. That’s why companies from the process industry developed DIN SPEC 91406. The committee included representatives from BASF, Covestro, Bayer, Lanxess, Siemens, Endress+Hauser, Yokogawa, Emerson, ABB and many other companies. The standard now provides a common framework for uniquely identifying products.

Manufacturers assign a serial number to each item, with a predetermined composition that is internationally valid. This customised number (ID) is encoded via QR codes or RFID tags and is attached to the product.

Orders and items can be tracked using the unique ID number. Manufacturers, OEMs, plant planners and operators can use device identification to access product-specific documents and information on maintenance plans and spare parts services. For example, companies can use it to provide technical drawings, operating instructions and material certificates. Once the valves have been uninstalled, the ID enables users to dispose of the products properly and sustainably. In short, the one-to-one ID is relevant in all phases of the product life cycle, from manufacture to disposal, thus contributing to the circular economy in the future.

The VDI 2770 standard offers another perspective for documenting product information digitally. It focuses on the structure of digital manufacturer information and data for the process industry. The core idea of the standard is to use the PDF format for human-readable documents and the XML format for machine-readable documents. The manufacturer packs all the information belonging to a product into a so-called document container (ZIP file). The customer then processes the data in a standardised manner. This could be an employee in the goods receiving department checking the order, a maintenance technician carrying out maintenance work or a TUV inspector.

For users of the devices, the two specifications state how automatic identification (DIN SPEC 91406/IEC 61406) and structured documentation of product information (VDI 2770) should work. Plant operators need to know how they can access the digital product data.

Digital Product Pass

The role that standards play in the process industry is best illustrated by an example. AS-Schneider has introduced a Digital Product Pass (DPP) for its products. E-series manifolds, monoflanges, VariAS-Blocks and DBB piping ball valves are marked with a one-to-one QR code according to DIN SPEC 91406/IEC 61406. The user simply scans the code or enters the individual serial number at This provides access to technically-relevant static product information.

The DPP solution is a static digital twin that provides only the documents and information that are available at the time of handover between the supplier and customer. This allows a physical product to be virtually mapped.

All aspects mentioned here will be relevant for digitalisation in the process industry in the future, and provides a way to produce more sustainably.

Michael Hasselbach

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