The Honeywell Users Group Asia Pacific Group Symposium 2012 was held on the Gold Coast in August. The focus was on helping users achieve optimal sustainable processes and business performance with a holistic approach for the entire lifecycle of an industrial plant.
Garry Mahoney (pictured alongside) Pacific Director, Honeywell Process Solutions took time out at the Symposium to speak with PACE about key aspects of the company's technology solutions.
What are the key solutions Honeywell is displaying at HUG 2012?
Looking at it from a client point of view, the key elements are: how do you execute projects, speed up schedules, reduce cost and ensure that you still get a quality result. In a greenfields project it's a serial process – there's design, construction, long lead time, a lot of effort and investment in the early period. The design of the control system is usually one of the last things finalised.
Universal I/O allows projects to make those decisions much later in the piece. With the combination of Universal I/O and Virtualisation, we're able to test, validate and acceptance test those tasks much later in the project cycle. Because it's virtualised, you can load the software at the back end of the project.
The first thing you do on a normal project is order your PCs and start to load your software. But the lead time could be 12 or 18 months – we can delay that investment, helping cash flow. The bigger saving is delaying the design team's final decision of allocation of I/O and addressing information.
Part of that same solution suite is Virtualisation. The Virtualisation of all our software applications now lowers the cost of ownership for customers. Instead of having a large system with 30 or 40 PCs you're now down to one or two.
Another area is the production, planning, scheduling, management and manufacturing and execution layer (MES). This is really a step change as many sites have many islands of information. Now Intuition allows you to visualise, or provide a common environment to the user.
Then there are solutions in the area of operator effectiveness which allow customers to build their collaboration centres and some of the tools around that. There's wireless infrastructure as well. As part of collaboration you need information. You can get that by running cables and wires.
But the cable is the expense, not the transmitter or the information. So a wireless infrastructure allows you to bring back a lot more data and reporting, often at a much lower cost.
All this helps you maintain a safe, optimised environment efficient. In summary, I'd say the key focus is on the MES layer or Intuition, Visualisation and then a suite of solutions of varying levels around operator effectiveness.
How do you see these technologies evolving in the future?
The technologies are really there to support a business requirement. We will see collaboration centres evolve in whatever form, whether it's remote operations, remote support, remote decision support, remote planning, an so on.
In collaboration centres, multiple people from different disciplines need to interact on business decisions. It is important how you present information and data to them so that they're efficient in data analysis.
It is recognising a business need and developing technology to solve that problem. We see a collaboration centre as more than pulling people together with a bunch of PCs. It's more than a data projected on a wall. It is a screen where multiple people can be together to look at the same thing in real time and be able to pull different information depending on the situation they're managing.
A lot of our development and R&D is built around VOC – voice of the customer. Through the UIS, (User Input Subcommittee), we understanding the business pains and drivers of our users. We try and solve those needs – some with new technology, others with existing solutions we have in different industries. Different industries have varying levels of automation development and sometimes we adapt the base technology solution from another industry.
Will the slowdown in Australian mining impact your business?
I don't think it'll change our business. We will definitely see a slow-down but no change of direction. This slow-down is being driven by economic conditions in Europe and US, as opposed to any fundamental flaw in our strategy. We still see a strong future in core business as it is today, but do expect a slow-down over the next 12 months.
The HUG 2012 Demo Room allowed users to get up close and personal with Honeywell's solutions.
What is Honeywell's key strategy in the area of instrumentation?
On the instrumentation side, the area where we can differentiate is wireless. We have a strong wireless portfolio in terms of understanding the ISA100 standard. It's about moving information around and our field instruments portfolio is quite mature and robust.
In fuel, oil and gas markets, we have quite an extensive portfolio. Custody transfer and temperature gauging, are specialised areas, whether it's land or marine. So we have a strong presence in those markets where we don't necessarily focus that much on say food and beverage, where it's very much discreet control, batch control and low cost instruments in place. That's another market and it's a bit smaller, that's all there is to it.
How does HUG 2012's Sustain.Ability theme tie in with Honeywell's road map?
Going forward, the future is about understanding and solving the business issues that clients have around the automation space. Automation is the information from sensor to boardroom. That's the value Honeywell brings to the table. We have solutions from the sensor to the operator; from the control room to the MES layer and production reporting.
If you look at that space – production planning, reporting, scheduling – we are the only integrated solutions provider across the whole portfolio. The majority of our competitors play in one of those spaces. I guess that's our legacy from being strong in the refining oil & gas sector and bringing that automation knowledge, production, planning and scheduling knowledge into other industries.
Overall, sustainability is key. How do we sustain site operations, keep the plant running, maintain knowledge while being buffered by the churn of people, whether retiring or leaving. Sustainability is about having the right cost structure to operate, so Virtualisation is about lower cost.
Universal I/O is about lowering cost of a facility to operate. Abnormal situation management is about ensuring operators are supported so they are able to operate and maintain the plant and assets without downtime periods. That about sustainability as well.
These are the solutions, the business solutions, we're trying to address, as opposed to technology.
Technology is the enabler. We need to be solving those business issues for our customers as opposed to just delivering products.
[PACE Editor Kevin Gomez attended the Honeywell Users Group Asia Pacific Group Symposium 2012 that was held on the Gold Coast,]