Glass Futures, the £54million research centre under construction at St Helens, Merseyside, has become the first facility to adopt the PCS Neo digital control system from Siemens.

The project – funded by a combination of government support and its membership businesses – will model and develop an optimised approach for ‘boosting’ glass furnaces with electrical heating. Industry body British Glass estimates this approach will cut UK emissions from glass manufacturing by 56 per cent.

The technology will manage all processes across the site and provide end-to-end monitoring and control, which Glass Futures will be able to modify and build on as the facility is developed. 

George Myers, control systems engineer at Glass Futures said: “Decarbonising the manufacturing process is vital with global demand for glass set to keep rising in the years ahead.

“Using electric boosting and hydrogen to melt glass provides us with a route to achieve that, and our ambition at St Helens is to model and develop a solution that large-scale manufacturers can adopt or learn from, paving the way for more efficient furnaces around the world.

Stephen Haigh, head of glass industry UK & Ireland at Siemens, said: “This revolutionary project will leverage the power of cross-industry collaboration and the potential of new digital technologies to deliver much needed, significant emission cuts across glass manufacturing.

“PCS Neo represents the culmination of three decades of development and real-world testing. By reducing the complexity of data collection and analytics at the site, and by simplifying operations at this test stage and subsequently in full-scale glass plants, PCS Neo will play a vital role in unlocking the ambition at the heart of this project.

“Importantly, it will provide Glass Futures – other future projects across the world – with flexibility when it comes to deploying their people, independent of role or location, and enabling global engagement and learning.”

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