Systems Integration / Wireless / Optimization

Sleek New Console Boosts Operator Effectiveness

Experion Orion Console Makes the Complex Seem Simple

By Jim Montague

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At first glance, the new Experion Orion console from Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) is the sleekest and most futuristic operator console ever. But that's just the beginning. First impressions give way to a deep appreciation of the enormous amount of thought and discipline that goes into making the complex seem so simple and elegant. The new console, unveiled for the first time at this week's Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, is but one of the new technologies on parade.

"We've been on a mission for two years to introduce game-changing technologies that address the issues that matter most to our customers," said Jason Urso, chief technology officer for HPS. "This means safety, reliability and connectivity, and launching products that are easier to use and more effective to implement and operate in mission-critical applications.

"HPS customers worldwide are looking to us for the best model for efficient operations, such as one user in the North Sea, who is running 18 offshore platforms from one centralized Experion PKS Orion system. This a transformational approach to project execution based on universality and connectivity. Field instruments and equipment that can be configured in minutes instead of hours. Our new solutions evolve the role of operators by giving them bigger pictures of their processes, which enables them to contribute even more directly in the profit limits and profitability of their businesses."

The latest release of the company's Experion PKS Orion is closely tied to and enabled by the company's Universal I/O and its new virtualization and cloud-computing solutions. "Thirty years ago, we moved from individual panel controls to supervisory PCs to improve reliability, and this is similar to what's happening now," explained Urso.

Improved Ergonomics to Start

The new console features an improved ergonomic design and better displays to simplify control system management, reduce operator fatigue and improve situational awareness. The console's design is based on operator input secured during many visits to control rooms in both newer and older plants in industries worldwide. The design and capabilities are the result of behavioral observations, as well as insights collected in multiple phases at plants, including their process start-ups and during abnormal operating periods.

The console's features include a large flexible, ultra-high definition display that provides clear status assessments of process operations with one glance for better and more-informed management. This flexibility also enables operators to customize displays for context-specific process issues and incorporates advanced alarm management and pan-and-zoom capabilities. Limits and targets are directly integrated into overview displays, enabling operation of the process closer to the optimum and allowing operators to increase the scope of their responsibilities. In addition, the Experion Orion console has touch-panel displays that provide the primary operating interface to better enable operators to quickly and accurately respond to changing conditions, and prevent situations that could lead to plant incidents and emergencies. The console also has a mobile tablet that reduces operator fatigue by allowing personnel to move about the control rooms more freely than before. When paired with wireless-enabled mobile technologies, the system also allows operators to view the same displays on handheld devices in other plant areas.

"Operators' responsibilities have continued to grow, but they often have to use the same, old displays," added Urso. "Experion Orion gives them better information in better context, so they can have better situational awareness, make better decisions and run closer to their process limits for longer periods of time. Process operators are really turning into business operators."

Three Scenarios

In three onstage demonstrations, Urso and his colleagues showed how Experion Orion can streamline plant start-ups, routine operations and abnormal situations. For example, if it usually takes 140 steps to start a furnace, Experion Orion's documentation capabilities can help perform many of these jobs automatically based on key variables and limits. "Experion Orion can identify alarms quicker and enable faster recoveries by showing the location of alarms faster and then also displaying step-by-step instructions for dealing with them," said Urso. "It also displays only the most relevant alarms, and this helps the least experienced operators work more like the most experienced ones."

Besides its Universal I/O and cloud-enabled features, Experion Orion is enabled by a host of new hardware devices and solutions that HPS is releasing now or in the near future. These components include:

  • GT400 ultrasonic gas flowmeter, which uses a proprietary signal-conditioning algorithm and titanium transducers to cancel out noise and deliver more accurate readings;
  • HC900 advanced process/logic controller and safety system, which has a touchscreen operator interface that enables pre-built, user-friendly displays, as well as trending and data archiving; and,
  • RTU 2020 ultra-low-power RTU, which has been integrated with Experion SCADA software, includes on-board HART data communications and can more easily monitor and control wellheads and pipelines.