The more things change, the more important it becomes to optimize those changes. “The future is coming fast,” said Pramesh Maheshwari, who’s been president and CEO of Honeywell Process Solutions for the past nine months. “All industries are transforming.”
Maheshwari welcomed more than 1,500 attendees to Orlando, Florida, at the 2023 Honeywell Users Group, its 46th in-person user group to be held in the Americas and the first designed for a global audience. “We’ve taken the event global with a larger, more diverse group,” he explained, noting the international focus of the event presentations, as well as the number of registrants from multiple companies around the world.
“People engagement is our prime focus at Honeywell,” emphasized Maheshwari. Users are riding the wave of megatrends that are affecting the way they’re doing business and changing the landscape of global profitability. “It’s about how best to achieve transformation in an optimized way,” he explained.
Optimizing transformation is the rallying cry of the 2023 Honeywell Users Group, as users make the journey into the new economy. “That journey will be different for all of us,” noted Maheshwari. “But there are also some key strengths, changes and challenges that affect us all.”
Maheshwari identified these megatrends, involving digital transformation, demographic transformation, energy transformation and net-zero sustainability, which users can address and optimize to ride the wave into the future of industry.
Digital transformation includes technology such as 5G to enable device interconnectivity and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). “We’ve seen price pressure,” noted Maheshwari. “We all need to do more with less. There are over 1 trillion globally connected devices.” Artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing can all be catalysts in this transformation. “We are moving toward a future where operations are autonomous, where work is predictive rather than reactive, where operators receive guidance using large language models.”
Increasingly, complex projects are driving the need for digital products and advanced analytics, he added. “Widespread adoption of autonomous operations in process industries is expected in the next five years,” he predicted.
Offerings for operations, cybersecurity and autonomy can help plants to reduce unplanned downtime; reduce capital expenditures through next-generation architectures; reduce operational expenses through intelligent asset performance management; and protect critical infrastructure and assets from cyber threats.
Demographic transformation is the result of the Baby Boom generation leaving the workforce. “Knowledge is departing,” warned Maheshwari. “A new generation with different approaches to learning is emerging. We confront a twin challenge.” The silver tsunami is a wave of aging employees who are retiring from the employment pool. Their wealth of tribal knowledge must be recorded and maintained, so it can be utilized, even after workers have retired. By the same token, new workers with new skills need to be recruited and trained for the plant of the future.
The need for enhanced plant and personnel safety and training is driving more digital solutions for the workforce. “Retiring baby boomers are leaving behind a scarcity of industrial process domain knowledge,” said Maheshwari, who also noted an increase in the virtualization of control applications in industrial automation.
Digital offerings can improve safety through adaptive awareness; can reduce human error through augmented intelligence tools; and can improve productivity through digital competency.
Sustainability driving energy transformation
Energy transformation includes a range of new sources. “Renewables will provide more than 60% of energy by 2030,” affirmed Maheshwari. “That’s an astonishing change. Biofuels will grow. Battery technology continues to advance.”
Similar to alternative energy sources, a range of technologies will become important to meet sustainability measures for emissions. “Monitoring, reporting and reduction can help to achieve net-zero goals,” assured Maheshwari. “We face many changes and challenges that we can meet with the right technology, people and partners.”
The path to net-zero emissions requires measuring, monitoring, reducing and reporting, he added. Tighter environmental regulations across the globe have spurred a growing environmental, social and corporate-governance (ESG) influence. The development of low-carbon energy sources and technologies and the emergence of integrated carbon-management products have driven organizations to take a stronger financial interest in carbon capture and carbon footprint.
Fugitive emissions can be reduced through real-time monitoring and mitigation. Energy costs can be reduced through dynamic energy management and storage. And energy consumption can be reduced through operations efficiency.