Like many other companies have done in this year of the pandemic, Honeywell Process Solutions switched its annual users’ group format to virtual, renaming it Honeywell VTECH for Virtual Technology experience. It continued to be a four-day event with a keynote each day followed by a few live sessions. Attendees could also watch prerecorded presentations in twenty different tracks that focused on Honeywell technologies and products.
Given the recent global events, it was of little surprise that the first key-note focused on remote operations. Unlike most of its competitors, Honeywell International has its own chemical processing operations that faced some of the same challenges as other HPS customers and provides a greater level of intimacy for problem solving. The event itself highlighted Honeywell Process Solution’s continued focus on technology enablement to address the process manufacturer’s pressing business challenges.
Key takeaways include:
- With the challenges presented by the pandemic, Honeywell has focused attention to providing robust remote functionality
- The Experion PKS HIVE (Highly Integrated Virtual Environment) in-vestment continues to focus on greater robustness, ease of use, and flexibility for users
- Honeywell migration solutions continue to be a strong focus
Remote, Remote, Remote
Jason Urso, CTO for Honeywell Process Solutions, kicked off the event with an overview of how the company responded to the current health crisis with solutions focused on remote operations, remote service, and remote project execution. He noted that many of the lessons learned in adapting to the pandemic can and should be applied moving forward and has accelerated digital transformation in many organizations. The focus for the company is to ensure that every day is the best day of production and every person is a “world-leading expert.”
Designed to ensure the health and safety of employees while maintaining business continuity, Experion Augmented Remote Operations (ARO) enables remote console stations, extending the control room to another building or another geographic location. According to Mr. Urso, this cyber-secure solution can be set up within a couple of hours to enable control and/or monitoring. The solution supports up to twenty Experion stations. The solution was introduced at the end of March and installed at the Honeywell plant in Orange, TX. Some customers have expressed that they would also use this solution to relocate consoles away from hazardous areas for personnel safety reasons, create backup control centers, or set up remote support centers.
Mr. Urso also introduced attendees to the Operations Safety Advisor. This solution provides a real-time view of operational risks. Like other Honeywell Forge-based solutions, this allows the user to drill into situations and more quickly identify ways to improve the overall risk profile.
Additionally, Mr. Urso introduced Honeywell Highly Augmented Look-Ahead Operations (HALO), which allows operators to act more proactively by bringing visibility into what is likely to occur in the future and provide guidance as to how to handle issues. It is coupled with a new “runway” element for the operator screen. The technology leverages knowledge derived from analyzing past events captured in the historian and event journals. This solution also provides feedback for the operator on their own effectiveness based on past performance of the operating team in the form of KPIs and shift-to-shift comparisons. Peter Davis, Senior R&D director, likened it to a “Fitbit for operations.”
Remote Enabled Services
Mr. Urso introduced Honeywell Enabled Services by recapping how the Measurement IQ and Thermal IQ offerings leverage Honeywell’s expertise to better maintain equipment and then moved on to explain how the same type of service can be offered for control systems. The company’s subscription-based Enabled Services program for control system users can provide analysis and remedies to solve problems while minimizing or eliminating the requirement to be onsite. Honeywell estimates its Enabled Services solution can deliver increased value by reducing the number of incidents per year by 40 percent, with a net decrease in total cost of ownership of 15 percent.
Based on Honeywell's Lifecycle Solutions & Services delivery model, the Enabled Services solution is designed around the three pillars of system health and performance, system compliance, and prescriptive maintenance and remediation. The remote dashboards are based on Honeywell Forge technology, and leverage both remote connection and local data collection as well as predictive and diagnostic tools. The services employ protected network connections built on IEC 62443 security standards to transfer data from the customer's site to Honeywell's global resource centers.
A recent ARC blogpost provides further details on this new service offering. Suffice it to say that the new offering, which leverages Honeywell’s technology, software tools, and automation expertise, should help process manufacturers further reduce costs, optimize spending, and decrease unscheduled downtime by increasing system reliability by monitoring control system equipment in real time and providing actionable recommendations to guide plant managers to more efficiently execute maintenance activities.
Mr. Urso introduced another service that allows customers to upgrade their systems remotely. The process flow is relatively simple. Customers send their system images to Honeywell. Honeywell then performs an upgrade and validates the upgraded system images. Honeywell returns these upgraded images to the site where the customer or a Honeywell representative can download them into the actual system as appropriate. He shared that the process actually lowers overall risk because Honeywell verifies the upgrade and there is less interaction with the live system.
Remote Project Execution
Honeywell introduced LEAP Virtual Engineering a few years ago. This allowed the company to leverage its Universal I/O and Virtualization technologies to move engineering off the critical path. At VTECH, Mr. Urso introduced LEAP remote and commissioning. Using virtualization, remote conferencing technologies, and wearables, the project team can conduct a virtual factory acceptance test. The benefits go beyond the current social distancing requirements. While some personnel still need to be co-located with the hardware, less travel means less project costs and enables more opportunistic scheduling. According to Mr. Urso, the company has already utilized the approach successfully for twelve projects.
New Cybersecurity Suite Designed for Remote Operations
Honeywell also released its updated Forge Cybersecurity Suite. This includes new features targeted to enable continuous remote operations even when faced with growing cybersecurity threats and continued pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. The new release enhances its industrial-grade remote access technology, increases its asset discovery capabilities with active and passive functionality, and improves cybersecurity risk monitoring. The remote dashboards are also based on Honeywell Forge technology, providing a single dashboard that can help to centralize security operations and asset security management.
Honeywell designed the Forge Cybersecurity Suite to address common pain points in operations technology (OT). These include moving and using operations data safely, strengthening endpoint and network security, and improving cybersecurity compliance. This helps cybersecurity teams manage remote access to outside companies, providing greater security and a better ability to monitor cybersecurity risks. It is available in three versions: Enterprise Core, Enterprise Premium, and Site offerings; and offered either as a subscription or through Honeywell Managed Security Services.
But Wait, There’s More
Last year, at the Honeywell Users’ Group event, the company introduced the Experion PKS HIVE (Highly Integrated Virtual Environment) technology, which ARC wrote about a year ago. Today, Honeywell continues to build out the technology. The Control HIVE can automatically load balance the configuration across the available control hardware. Keeping track of everything that is connected and where it is connected is a difficult task, but Honeywell has provided system management tools to help remove this burden. Later this year, Honeywell will introduce Infinite Availability. Infinite Availability allows all members of the Control HIVE to back up any other member of the HIVE using the available processing throughout the HIVE. This is more akin to the functionality available in commercial IT servers.
ELCN is an “upgrade” that eliminates all legacy hardware from the TDC3000 system while maintaining the engineering-related intellectual property. In doing so, the legacy system becomes one with the Experion PKS environment. Mr. Urso also introduced the incorporation of the Native Window functionality into Experion ControlBuilder. This means that users can build and edit all configuration for the ELCN within the ControlBuilder application, including CL (Control Language) programs.
Honeywell continues to build out its batch offerings with visualization enhancements that allow the operator to see how the batch is operating in greater detail. The company also plans to introduce the Batch Orchestrator early next year. This will bring MES-type functionality into the control system layer. The plans include an interface for configuring formula sets, a method to manage campaigns and work instructions functionality.
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in ways that might never have occurred otherwise. Some companies were caught flat-footed while others had the underpinnings in place to adapt quickly. Regardless, ARC Advisory Group believes the technologies that facilitate remote work and leverage institutional knowledge are a mainstay in competitive organizations. Supplier strategies, such as Honeywell’s that focus on agile, yet secure adoption of these technology enablers, will help end users more easily address their challenges.
As emphasized at the VTECH event, companies that truly embrace digital transformation look beyond the enabling technologies and seek to address the organizational and cultural impediments that prevent fully capitalizing on the technologies’ benefits.
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Keywords: Honeywell, VTECH, Process Automation, Remote Operations, Batch, Experion PKS, Migration, Modularization, HPS, Digital Transformation, Operations Safety Advisor, Experion Augmented Remote Operations, Enabled Services, HIVE, ARC Advisory Group.