Systems Update Balances New Capabilities, Lifecycle Support

Honeywell Users Treated to Past, Present and Future Technology Perspectives

By Keith Larson

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At the systems level, much of Honeywell Process Solutions' focus at the EMEA Users Group meeting in Istanbul in November was understandably focused on the new Experion PKS Orion, Honeywell's latest generation process knowledge system. But in line with Honeywell's "continuous evolution" commitment, Experion PKS Orion shared the spotlight with a number of system enhancements designed to bring forward users' investments in Honeywell technology dating back a decade or more.

"Honeywell's commitment to continuous evolution allows plants to take what was once a legacy system and gradually, in a step-by-step fashion, move it forward such that it becomes part of a new, modern system while at the same time protecting the plant's intellectual property," explained Jason Urso, vice president and chief technology officer, Honeywell Process Solutions.

First introduced in June 2012 at the Honeywell Users Group Americas conference, Experion PKS Orion builds on the core technology concepts of universal, fully configurable process I/O (to increase system flexibility, reduce costs and shorten project delivery timelines), virtualization (to reduce computing costs, footprint, energy use and maintenance effort) and collaboration (to facilitate rapid, accurate team decision-making). "Honeywell has a long history of technology leadership in industrial automation, and Experion PKS Orion is a major leap in innovation, system flexibility and cybersecurity," Urso said.

Virtualization, Alarm Management

New to the Experion PKS Orion line-up is a blade-server chassis that includes fully redundant power and communications functions (see image). Using virtualization technology, the single box with six blade servers can replace as many as 20 traditionally configured PCs, said Jean-Marie Alliet, HPS director of solutions consultants in the EMEA region.

Also recently released for the Experion PKS platform is a range of new alarm management functionality. "Alarm help" allows systems engineers to make available to operators the underlying rationale and directions for dealing with each alarm. Just select "more context and guidance" from the drop-down menu and "even your most junior operators can be as smart as your most experienced," said Alliet. Dynamic alarm suppression is designed to detect alarm bursts and suppress all but root cause alarms. Secondary alarms are still logged, but are suppressed so that the operator can focus on the high priority alarms. Finally, "Alarm Tracker" orients alarms by equipment and time instead of a sequential list. Alarms are grouped by equipment, but displayed along a time line. With experience, operators learn to recognize patterns in these alarm clusters, recognizing situations and resolving issues without needing to read all of the alarm detail, Alliet said.

Integration Eases Collaboration

Urso and Alliet also displayed a range of system capabilities designed to bring together and make actionable plant information from a broad variety of sources. "Today's typical process plant has 30 repositories of data, and the volume of data is increasing at 65% per year and becoming increasingly fragmented," Alliet said. Honeywell's Intuition Executive "allows you to bring all that data together and make sense of it, to anticipate, collaborate and act," Alliet said. "And there's no need to replicate data in a central database, the tool will go get it."

In addition to enabling the creation of role-based desktop dashboards, information can be displayed on mobile devices as well as the company's Collaboration Station, a large multi-touch display screen that also features video and telecommunications capabilities. The Collaboration Station helps address the challenge of skilled labor shortages by bringing in the expertise of remote experts as needed, Alliet said. Further, Experion Mobile Solutions allow information display on a range of mobile devices, essentially "anything that supports a browser" as well as the Honeywell's Field Advisor devices that are designed for in-plant use, Urso said. 

HPM Performance Enhanced

On the legacy support side of the ledger, a key system-level introduction made at Istanbul is the next generation version of Honeywell Process Solutions' widely adopted High-Performance Manager (HPM) controller. Called the Enhanced HPM (EHPM), the new controller effectively allows 25 years of distributed control system installed base to seamlessly migrate to Experion. Risk and cost of system migration is significantly reduced by preserving control strategies and wiring, Alliet said.

"It's revolutionary technology delivered in an evolutionary way," Alliet said. "We allow you to make a choice: Keep what you have, or continuously evolve. We can do either."

"What's your roadmap?" Alliet asked in conclusion. "We can help determine the best way forward, help you create a five- or 10-year automation plan and build the justification that may be required."

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