Honeywell introducing new remote operations offerings

June 5, 2020
Bundled software, including Experion Remote Operations, can be and running in just a couple of hours

To help customers handle COVID-19 constraints and maintain business continuity, Jason Urso, CTO of Honeywell Process Solutions, reports it's delivering new remote operations offerings, such as those used on remote wellheads, oil and gas platforms, and mining operations. "We have inherent capabilities for remote operations, but many large industrial plants haven't applied them previously, primarily because operations were performed in a fixed control center at the industrial site. Now, to meet local requirements and adhere to HSE policies associated with COVID-19, customers can deploy highly cybersecure remote operations. This capability enables engineers or operators to work remotely and have the same integrated user experience as if they were in the actual control center at the site.” 

Urso reports Honeywell has assembled a bundle of software, including its Experion Remote Operations, which users can get up and running in just a couple of hours. It's a specially configured version of Experion that can run remotely in a cybersecure way across firewalls, and deliver graphics anywhere within a corporate, IT-based infrastructure. This can augment operations at different process facilities, manage local applications at a distance, and perform work-at-home tasks where required.

"This software bundle can support essential operations personnel that still have to be onsite by enabling seamless collaboration with operations or engineering personnel that are working remotely or have to be in a 14-day quarantine," explains Urso. "We're dealing with these situations at our chemical plants, too, and coming up with contingencies for them. For example, Honeywell's low-density polyethylene plant in Orange, Texas, deployed our remote-work software in two hours. We worked with support and cybersecurity staff to add it securely to the plant's control system. This allowed operations and engineering users, with appropriate security user credentials, to view the process from their remote administration facility. Why should distance matter, as long as it's done in a secure manner?"

To further enable business continuity, Urso adds that Honeywell is supporting its control systems and UoP process units by introducing remote service capabilities, providing proactive insight into process and equipment performance. This can address issues long before they cause downtime, while also reducing the need for in-person visits to sites. These functions were already part of Honeywell's Forge IIoT program, but Urso explains the impact of COVID-19 is making them even more of a priority, and inspired their application at its plant in Orange, other chemical facilities, and among its customer base. He adds the main departure from previous remote operations efforts is that Honeywell's new pre-packaged version of Experion can be deployed in a couple of hours, compared to the longer implementation required for custom remote operations projects.

"The power of remote technologies is available to everyone, but they haven't been evenly distributed, and are more pervasive in some industries and disciplines than others, even though they can be applied across all of them," says Urso. "One lesson of the coronavirus crisis is that it will change the view of who and where remote technologies can be applied during normal operations. We typically help with multi-billion-dollar capital expenditure projects worldwide, and we all have to learn better that—even if we can't deploy people directly as we did in the past—we can keep pushing projects forward by switching operations to remote technologies to capture data and develop digital twins running in the cloud."