Macro Trends Impacting Automation and New Technologies

By Sharada Prahladrao

Technology Trends

At the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, ARC’s Peter Reynolds, Contributing Analyst, discussed the macro trends that are affecting automation today, changes in project execution, and new technologies with Joe Bastone, Director, Experion Product Management at Honeywell Process Solutions.  This blog focuses on the highlights and quotes of the interview.  You can watch the interview here and/or on Youtube.

Macro Trends Impacting Automation

Honeywell sees a lot of customers really focused on how they're going to deploy ever increasing systems, both in terms of size, complexity, and even remoteness.  “And it's those kinds of macro trends that are really begging for more of a modular and standardized approach in how they deploy those automation systems,” said Joe.

Changes in Project Execution

Over the last 40 years or so, projects are being executed in more efficient ways.  Until about 10 years ago, the core principles behind why projects were being executed in a certain manner were never really challenged, explained Joe.  Around 2013, Honeywell introduced LEAP, which is the company’s lean execution philosophy for implementing automation projects, and that challenged some of the core tenets to enhance efficiency and reduce some of the non-value-added tasks that are associated with implementing these projects.

Fast forwarding to today, the company is introducing new solutions, such as Experion PKS HIVE, which is made up of the IO HIVE, the Control HIVE, and the IT HIVE.  “And that further pushes the envelope in how we can deploy automation projects and further decouple the system; this helps to achieve the more modular approach that customers are looking for, while simultaneously being able to deploy a more standardized approach,” said Joe.

Customer Response to Experion PKS HIVE

“When Experion PKS HIVE was introduced eight months ago, the main focus that customers gravitated towards was on the IO HIVE standpoint,” said Joe.  Customers immediately saw the benefits of deploying their systems in a flexible manner, and adjusting to late changes on the system.  He explained that if the customer needed to deploy more IO to the HIVE, they could do that incrementally.  “When we started taking a look at Control HIVE and how that fits on top of it, it became much more efficient to be able to do that in a more piecemeal fashion,” he said.  That is done by  decoupling the elements of the system so the IO is no longer bound to a specific controller.  Instead, the IO is seen as an extension of that modular equipment.  From the control side, instead of dedicating a certain control strategy to a specific controller, all the controllers can be seen virtually, and a set of controllers can operate as a HIVE/Control HIVE.

Explaining the IT HIVE

The IT HIVE allows the Experion system to be deployed either fully on-site or as a combination of on-site resources and IT deployment in a customer's data center.  This enables much more flexibility with how the systems are deployed and centralizes administration techniques, such as deploying Windows updates or antivirus updates or security patches to the underlying system.  The main advantage of centralization is that specialized expertise is not  required at every facility, so resources can be kept to a minimum.  “You also get the side benefit of being able to dedicate the control system engineers to focus on optimizing the control system instead of performing the IT functionality on-site,” added Joe.

ARC looks forward to watching Honeywell’s progress over the next several months.

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