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HUG 2013 showcases control room of tomorrow

The Honeywell Users Group event began yesterday, with highlights including a preview of the company’s Orion console and demonstrations of its Experion Collaboration Station.

In sometimes-downbeat comments on industry perspective, Tony Cosgrove, Honeywell’s Asia Pacific VP, said that there were half a dozen standout issues in users’ feedback being addressed, involving plant maintenance, remote operations, knowledge retention, safety, cyber security and cost pressures.

Economic difficulties were noted in terms of turnout at the 24th annual event, with pressures resources and other customers meaning a lower-than-average attendance was expected.

“I know it’s a huge issue, and a huge focus is on costs,” said Cosgrove.

“The reason is the price pressure. China has slowed down and China is changing its focus from building infrastructure to generating commercial demand.”

In remarks echoing the earlier economic outlook presented by Westpac’s Justin Smirk, Cosgrove commented on the effects on the end of a once-in-a-century mining boom, with easy gains no longer an option.  

“All of the easy resources have kind of been got,” he said.

“If you look at new resource discoveries, be it in mining, be it in oil and gas, they tend to be in out of the way places,” he said, citing Codelco’s operations on top of the Andes and Chevron’s Frade Field operations.

Honeywell Process Solutions’ CTO Jason Urso spoke next of the company’s “control room of tomorrow” developments. 

Urso said that research had shown fatigue was a massive concern for operators, and had great potential dangers.

“Being an operator today is a lot like sitting on an economy-class seat on a completely full flight for 10 hours and then being asked to make a critical decision,” he said.

He claimed that the company’s Experion PKS Orion console, currently under development, would offer great improvements in terms of an operator’s mobility and effectiveness.

The Experion PKS Orion (pictured) is scheduled for release next year, and includes an option to pan and zoom for a better look at a plant’s operations, and would allow a user to carry a tablet linked to the machine around with them, functioning as a remote control.

Honeywell’s David Nixon, who is working on the development of the Orion at Sydney, later told Australian Mining (part of Cirrus Media that also publishes PACE) that the unit would “liberate an operator from his chair” among other benefits, such as a lot of “real estate” taken up by the screen.

Nixon offered that, “When something’s happening, there are probably going to be shift supervisors, other operators from other consoles coming over to talk to you to walk through the problem.

“So you need to view all of the critical information quickly and easily.”

He said there would be benefits from both the size of the Orion, as well as the option of walking around and accessing its information on a tablet.

“What you can do here, is effectively use this as a remote control, and access the various types of graphics that are needed, remotely, and bring them up wherever you are,” he said.

“These work together to create a better ergonomic environment for the operator, but also to aid their situational awareness. The physical factors like the layout of the console, the real estate, and the flexibility.”

Also on display was the touch-screen Experion Collaboration Station, which enables real-time monitoring of numerous sites – such as the different parts of a refinery or offshore oil and gas operations – from the one location, as well as video conferencing and what’s taking place along different parts of a supply chain.

“It can also include information from the business domain,” said Nixon.

“I might be drawn to this compressor station with the alarm on. I can click to zoom in and then access all the related information with my fingertips.”

[Brent Balinski is attending the 2013 Honeywell Users Group Asia Pacific Symposium as a guest of Honeywell Process Solutions.]

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