Experion PKS Orion Keeps Pouring on the Innovations

June 17, 2013
A Look Under the Hood of Honeywell's Flagship Control Platform
About the Author
Jim Montague is the Executive Editor at Control, Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines. Jim has spent the last 13 years as an editor and brings a wealth of automation and controls knowledge to the position. For the past eight years, Jim worked at Reed Business Information as News Editor for Control Engineering magazine. Jim has a BA in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and lives in Skokie, Illinois.

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You'd think a DCS as useful and successful as Experion PKS Orion R2 might stop for a well-deserved break, or at least pause to catch its breath—and allow its many fans to catch theirs.

But that's just not how Experion and its developers operate. Together, they just keep churning out an unrelenting stream of improvements, capabilities and innovations, until it seems like there's nothing that Experion can't do, and maybe that's the point.

Jack Gregg, product marketing director at Honeywell Process Solutions, presented "Experion PKS Orion R2—The Journey Continues" to a full house today at the Honeywell Users Group Americas 2013 in Phoenix, Ariz. Gregg reported that recent Experion PKS Orion advances include:

  • Productivity improvements, such as engineering enhancements and system management;
  • Interoperability additions for Profibus PA and EtherNetI/P;
  • Field device management of Foundation Fieldbus' EDDL/DD support;
  • Legacy upgrade solutions, such as Enhanced High Performance Process Manager (EHPM) and Experion Highway Bridge; and,
  • Expanded SCADA solutions, including those that provide visualization and engineering efficiencies.
Honeywell's Jack Gregg walked HUG attendees through the many productivity- and performance-enhancing improvements recently made to the Experion PKS Orion platform.More specifically, Gregg reported that Experion PKS Orion's engineering improvements consist of: Control Builder Chart enhancements, List View enhancements, Control Builder "add-ins" including improved Bulk Build and Bulk Edit functions and Experion integration with SmartPlant Instrumentation (SPI) software.

Meanwhile, Experion's system management upgrades include virtualization enhancements, an installation builder, patch manager, documentation functions, secure communications, DSA events, and a standalone OPC redirection manager. "Our virtualization enhancements include template support for R430, R410.2 and R400.3, as well as the ability to deploy Experion nodes from pre-installed virtual machine templates, which reduced installation time down from hours to minutes," said Gregg. "Our install package improvements include automatically installing VMware Tools, and we have a unified physical and virtual backup strategy with Experion Backup and Restore (EBR). Also, virtualization will be available on day one of any future Experion releases."

Gregg added that Experion's new patch manager has system-wide storage, deployment and monitoring of Experion patches; requires less time to manage patches; reduce the chance of nodes missing critical patches; and is better able to keep patching up to date.

"We also have configurable, secure communications with configuration for standard, medium and high security levels," added Gregg. "Also, Experion's secure communications allows for either full encryption of all network traffic between secure nodes or allows for network messages to be communicated in Cleartext with message integrity as provided by IPSec. In addition, our standalone OPC Redirection Manager (RDM) has all the benefits of RDM redundancy without any Experion software dependencies."

To aid interoperability, Gregg added that, "In Orion R2, we will support the Profibus PA device profile as a new standard DSB block type. Also, we're providing native EtherNetI/P connectivity with the C300, and eliminate reengineering and mapping when reading/writing ControlLogix tags by providing support for creation and use of communication blocks with matching structures for UDTs in ControlLogix."

Gregg added that built-in, exception-based monitoring in Experion PKS Orion will aid operations workflow, and allow operators at a wellhead, for example, to check 100 wells in two minutes, instead of the 60 minutes that it used to take to check 100 wells.

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.