Orion consoles improve safety by raising visibility

June 21, 2017
New status dashboards expand views of facilities and applications, remote monitoring functions aid workflow, and Command and Control software empowers efficient response

Logically, the more clearly you can see, the safer you'll be. That's why developers of Experion Orion, Honeywell Process Solutions' advanced unified HMI and workstation solution, haven't been sitting on their laurels since it was introduced three years ago, but have instead been constantly seeking feedback from numerous Orion users about how to improve and increase its already formidable capabilities.

"We now have hundreds of Experion Orion users and installations worldwide, so we've been studying them to verify how it's doing, and if it's living up to the claims made about it when it was released. So far, it's exceeding our expectations and those of our users," said Rohan McAdam, chief architect, HPS. "Our research found that Orion not only makes operators more effective, but it also lets them detect problems three times faster, and navigate both routine and abnormal situations thee times faster. This enables them to make process changes much more quickly, especially during upset situations."

McAdam, Graeme Laycock, director of experience design at HPS, and Peter Davis, software technology director at HPS, presented "Improve Safety Through Fast and Precise Emergency Response" on the third day of Honeywell Users Group Americas 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

In general, Experion Orion's primary advantages since its inception include big, bright displays showing each user's entire process manufacturing applications and facilities; touchscreens that are faster than traditional keyboard/mouse devices; and more intuitive interface controls that are particularly useful to younger operators who have grown up with smartphones, tablet PCs and videogame-style interfaces.

"Orion recently scored 92 on the 100-point system usability scale (SUS), where our prior Universal station scored 64," added McAdam. "This is because Orion makes it easier to identify process parameters, find and respond to process problems, and reduce fatigue and increase comfort for operators. Its sit/stand feature and eye-strain reducing features are especially helpful in this area."

New tools and horizons

Though it wasn't easy to top Orion's existing capabilities, Laycock reported that Honeywell's team used extensive user input and research to develop several new, major capabilities for its flagship HMI system. These new features include:

  • System status dashboard that provides a picture of the overall health of a process, including operator limits, trends of actual limits, and other displays to help users make changes faster. It also lets users bring in data from business-level applications, while still maintaining required system-level separations.
  • Streamlined migration tools and enhanced access to experts, which can save 60% on the cost of implementing Orion.
  • Improved exception-based monitoring and documentation function to further aid operator and applications workflows.
  • Remote monitoring functions that enable more secure operations, address workforce shortages, and help users run leaner operations. This capability will aid both efficiency and safety efforts; generate sixfold savings compared to typical in-the-field monitoring; and incorporate remote video, fire and gas, and other SCADA data streams.
  • Participation in Experion's new Control Handover Capability for better coordinating operators in different locations.

Command and Control

Probably the new function that extends the original vision for Experion Orion the most is its partnering with Honeywell's Command and Control Suite software, which lets the console's high-definition screens:

  • Show deep maps across entire facilities;
  • Allow users to pan and zoom in to particular areas;
  • Display video windows from those locations; and
  • Launch instructions, and even carry out some automated steps from Orion itself.

"If we get an alert from a plant in Japan about an approaching cyclone, for instance, they can hand over control and evacuate, and we can connect and take over the controls from the Honeywell Remote Response Center," explained Laycock. "The center can use remote control to check cameras, and help bring the plant to a more conservative operating state. Orion can also identify steps that have been taken, while the dashboard shows progress, and the whole user team and HPS can see what’s going on, on their mobile devices."

McAdam added that, "We're also creating a web-based environment for the next generation of operators. This includes enhancements to our Pulse solution that gets the right data to the right people at the right time wherever they are. Pulse now lets users set their own limits that reflect their interests in a process, create watch lists based on previous benchmarks, and add notifications about the ownership of who owns what data."

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.