Systems Integration

Make the LEAP to More Efficient Project Execution

New Honeywell Approach Can Cut Total Automation Costs by Up to 30%

By Paul Studebaker

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Honeywell Process Solutions' new project execution approach helps prevent cost and time overruns by "taking automation off the critical path," according to Brendan Sheehan, projects and automation system business global marketing director, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). This week at the Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, the company unveiled its new LEAP methodology, which stands for "lean execution for automation projects."

"According to the International Journal of Project Management, 70% of projects overrun cost or schedule by 10 to 30%," Sheehan said, a trend that has gotten worse as today’s larger and  more complex projects involve more kinds of engineering expertise and are being performed in remote locations all over the world where standards vary and local expertise may be thin.

LEAP combines HPS proprietary hardware and software, virtualization and cloud engineering to give users greater scheduling flexibility while reducing risk and total automation costs by up to 30%. Multiple industries can benefit from an estimated 80% reduction in costs related to unnecessary rework. These features can also help reduce avoidable schedule delays by up to 90%.

Complexity High, Time Short

"Automation projects are increasingly difficult to manage—especially as implementations become larger and more complex while still needing to be completed quickly and efficiently," said Vimal Kapur, president, Honeywell Process Solutions. "LEAP turns project execution workflow on its head, simplifying what has traditionally been a long and expensive process and enabling measurable time and cost savings so plants can focus on the end goal of getting up and running quickly."

LEAP represents a major departure from the way plants are typically designed and built by using parallel workflows to keep automation systems off critical implementation paths. Traditional sequential workflows call for the automation and controls to be implemented during a specified timeframe before the rest of the plant can be completed. This approach poses challenges such as managing changes, which can affect all subsequent steps of the implementation and threaten project schedules and budgets.

LEAP creates separate streams of work for the physical and functional aspects of project design. This approach allows project engineering to take place from anywhere in the world and removes workflow dependencies to allow core project tasks to start much earlier in the process. It also dramatically minimizes the cost and volume of rework typically associated with automation projects.

LEAP specifically combines three key core technologies:

  • Universal Channel Technology – Honeywell’s proprietary solution allows instant remote configuration of channel types, standardized input/output cabinets, reduction or elimination of marshalling cabinets, and reduction in equipment needed.
  • Virtualization – Use of virtual machines in the control system removes dependencies between the functional and physical design, enables standardized server cabinets, reduces hardware requirements and delivers corresponding savings in space, power, cooling and weight.
  • Cloud Engineering – Engineering in a secure, centrally hosted cloud environment allows project execution and testing anywhere in the world, delivering improvements in collaboration and travel savings.

Universal I/O allows engineers to specify standard cabinets solely on the basis of estimated total I/O counts, without predetermining how many of what kinds of I/O: analog or discrete, input or output. Cabinets can be built, shipped and installed before the control system is designed and are essentially immune to change orders, since wiring can be landed before the I/O is configured.

Virtualization allows the entire control system to be engineered and configured on Honeywell servers before any hardware is on-site. After it is tested, the system and its databases can be downloaded to the plant.

Cloud engineering allows engineers around the world to work on the project from wherever they’re located instead of traveling to a central location. "We bring the work to the engineers; we don’t have to send the engineers to the staging area," said Jason Urso, HPS chief technology officer. Engineers spend less time traveling and more time working, and specialized expertise becomes readily available.

Redefining Work Processes

The conventional approach of developing the system in a staging area, waiting for the instrumentation freeze to allow the physical equipment to be built and installed, building displays and testing the system, and then shipping to the site has been taking two to three years—long enough that the PCs often need to be refreshed before the plant can be started. "Now you can engineer sooner, without the physical equipment—no development system, no update," said Urso. "Ship standard cabinets, ship the servers at the end of the project and load them from the Cloud."

Since the entire system is validated before download, LEAP may allow engineers to redefine—maybe even forego—the conventional factory acceptance test (FAT). "This is really transforming how we do our work, because we can engineer more easily and ship hardware earlier," said Kapur. "In a few years, we’ll be asking ourselves how we lived without it, just like my daughter asked me how we lived without Google."