à la Carte

[ Published in HOERBIGER@MOTION 02/2012 ]

KSB S.A.S. France is a leading provider in the world for butterfly valves, non-return valves, actuators and automation systems. In 1989, the French subsidiary of Germany's KSB Group acquired what the former AMRI S.A. - "Applications Mécaniques de Robinetterie Industrielle". Since then, AMRI has been the brand under which valves made by the KSB Group are marketed. Boasting sales of approximately two billion euros worldwide, the Group is one of the leading manufacturers of pumps, valves and associated systems. Modules made by HOERBIGER are also contributing to this success.

At KSB S.A.S France, approximately 450 employees are in charge of development and production of the items manufactured in La Roche-Chalais. A key production line is the butterfly valves. KSB S.A.S France is considered a market leader in Europe in this market segment. Given the variety of eccentric and centric butterfly valves offered by KSB, ranging from a few millimeters to several meters in size, the range of application opportunities is broad. The manually, electrically, pneumatically or hydraulically actuated valves are used in many markets of industry, in the crude oil, gas, chemical and petrochemical industries, but also in the industrial generation of low-pressure steam and vacuum as well as in the sugar and paper fields. Additional areas of application include building, water and power plant technology, as well as shipbuilding.

KSB S.A.S. France manufactures almost the entire range in-house. The plant generally procures only the cast casings, raw materials, electronics components and – in very few exceptions – mechatronics modules from outside suppliers. This has led to high complexity in the production operation. An especially innovative system is the electropneumatic SMARTRONIC MA positioner, which is used to control pneumatic part-turn and linear actuators. Unlike with the majority of its leading products, KSB here relies on the performance of a component made by a development partner: in the SMARTRONIC SA, a piezo-pneumatic positioner module made by HOERBIGER which has extremely low internal air consumption of less than 0.4 liters per minute (0.024 cubic meters/hour) has replaced the solenoid valve of the predecessor model. The objective was to develop an intrinsically safe pneumatic-electronic controller. The experts at KSB S.A.S. France were only looking for a supplier that could offer an intrinsically safe piezo pilot valve with very low internal air consumption. HOERBIGER Automatisierungstechnik GmbH in Altenstadt, Germany, had just completed its development of an innovative smart positioner for intrinsically safe positioners. The newly devised positioner module was so well received in Gradignan that they dispensed with a new development of their own and KSB, in this instance, departed from the high internal vertical integration: the company decided against an in-house development and in favor of the system made by HOERBIGER.


In 2012, the KSB Group unveiled a new generation of multifunctional valve control units and smart positioners for pneumatic part-turn and linear actuators. The scope of functions ranges from simple open-close functions of a pneumatic valve with limit position detection – AMTRONIC – to the performance of control functions, which are executed independently of a higher-level control console – SMARTRONIC PC. The piezo-pneumatic positioner module from HOERBIGER Automatisierungstechnik GmbH in Altenstadt, Germany, is an important module which is used in the SMARTRONIC MA positioner for pneumatic part-turn and lift actuators. According to KSB, great features of the HOERBIGER module include fast positioning, the technology for intrinsically safe devices, low energy consumption and resistance to air pollution. Thanks to the integrated piezo-pneumatic pilot valves, the internal air consumption of the positioner module is less than 0.4 liters per minute (0.024 cubic meters/hour), regardless of the operating pressure. This is less than half of the compressed air consumption of conventional systems.


The new AMTRONIC and SMARTRONIC units made by KSB are suitable for a broad spectrum of applications. The systems underwent strict field testing by pilot users from the oil, gas and food industries as well as in drinking water purification. Intrinsically safe models are especially suited for applications in atmospheres prone to explosions. The HOERBIGER piezo-pneumatic positioner modules particularly stand out in these difficult environments: they are typically produced in intrinsically safe designs, which meet the ATEX II 1 G standard.


KSB Aktiengesellschaft headquartered in Frankenthal, Germany, is a leading pump and valve manufacturer in the world. Like the German parent company, the plant of the French KSB subsidiary KSB S.A.S. France in La Roche-Chalais is a long-standing customer of the HOERBIGER Strategic Business Unit Automation Technology. KSB sells the butterfly valves manufactured in La Roche-Chalais, France, in Burgos, Spain, and in Houston, Texas, USA, under the AMRI brand name. The valves are used in building technology, industrial engineering, water and power plant technology as well as in shipbuilding. The product portfolio of the AMRI brand includes pneumatic, hydraulic and electric valve actuators as well as control units.