Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Process Solutions, welcomed more than 1000 attendees from 34 countries to the 36th Honeywell Users Group Americas Symposium held in Phoenix on June 12-16. Gilsdorf kicked off the general session with a perspective on an industry in which globalization, mobilization, integration and collaboration have become vital elements in a competitive marketplace.
The boundaries that used to exist between countries have lessened to a great extent, Gilsdorf said, noting that the speed of decisions and speed of pricing—particularly in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market—are becoming critical to success and profitability. The companies that can make decisions faster can create a competitive advantage.
Mobilization of people and assets is also important, Gilsdorf said, but process industries are really only just beginning to adapt to this trend. "More can be done here," he added. "Getting information to the right place, to the right experts, wherever they are in the world, can also create a competitive advantage."
Just as the cell phone integrates email, Internet access, cameras, GPS and more, mobile computing devices could be used within industry. "We need to learn to leverage that in the process industries—bring them together so you can make faster decisions, better decisions, decisions that sometimes don't need operator intervention, decisions that help you solve problems better, in a faster way," he said.
Jason Urso, vice president and chief technology officer for Honeywell Process Solutions, provided some specifics on Honeywell's approach to these challenges. He reported that the latest version of Experion, released last year, includes a new Profibus module, Foundation fieldbus' advanced alarm prioritization and filtering, a steam turbine control module, a custom algorithm block that allows users to augment existing function blocks and support for Microsoft Windows 7.
"We're also now introducing Experion virtualization, which will allow users to reap Experion's benefits with far less hardware," said Urso. "It uses a few thin-client computers to reduce a typical user's data processing hardware by 75%. And we're also applying Experion virtualization across our whole portfolio to reduce a customer's existing hardware by as much as 90%."
Besides saving on hardware, this virtualization strategy aids migration projects for users by taking easily portable snapshots of their applications, making it simpler to deploy new tools and functions and enabling better backup-and-restore functions.
To aid users in the field, Honeywell also recently launched its Field Advisor mobile operator rounds software, which is built into its Field Advisor handheld devices. This enables the firm's Experion remote operations program to help users cope with their skilled labor shortages. "In the first half of 2012, Experion will begin delivering data and reporting via Apple iPhone and iPad," added Urso.
On the safety front, Urso reported that Honeywell will introduce three new products in August 2012 to bring alarm functions to Experion. These will include Alarm Help to connect alarms directly to control systems; dynamic alarm suppression to detect alarm bursts and suppress all alarms except those that indicate root-cause alarms; and an alarm trend display that sequentially orders alarms to identify significant trends before they become problems or incidents. Urso added that Honeywell is further improving safety for users by launching a new wireless gas detector along with an individual personnel locator in 2011, as well as a line of smart personal protection equipment.
Honeywell also announced at the meeting that Honeywell Safety Manager is the first automation module to receive the ISASecure Embedded Device Certification from the ISA Security Compliance Institute. Part of the PKS suite of products and tightly integrated with Honeywell Experion control system, Safety Manager is a hardware and software platform that provides complete SIS safety protection for process plants.