Few if any 20-year-olds achieve as much during their childhood and teenage years as Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) has accomplished during its first two decades.
The legendary process control and visualization platform from Honeywell Process Solutions celebrates its 20th birthday this week at the 2023 Honeywell Users Group in Orlando, Fla. Its developers and supporters took stock of how it redefined automation by unifying formerly separate applications in the process industries and detailed how they’re building on its many successes to further digitalize and add new capabilities in the near future.
“Twenty years ago, there were a lot of proprietary control systems with custom engineering and trapped data that users wanted to get out,” said Joe Bastone, Honeywell product manager for Experion PKS. “End users told us they wanted open systems and Ethernet networking that could pull information from the field more easily, and they wanted to process it by adopting Microsoft Windows running on Intel microprocessors.”
To meet these requirements, Honeywell introduced Experion PKS R100 in 2003, which was based on proven technologies, including a control execution environment, visualization and fault-tolerant Ethernet (FTE). This infrastructure combines numerous functions, such as distributed and process control functions, production operations, business applications, advanced process control (APC) optimization, engineering maintenance, wireless tools, digital video and investment protection.
Bastone reported that Experion PKS also continuously evolved over the years and added:
• Universal Series-C platform for programmable I/O;
• Experion Local Control Network and enhanced high-performance program manager networking;
• Lean Execution of Automation Projects (LEAP) that combines Universal I/O, visualization and cloud engineering; and
• Experion Orion consoles.
Experion PKS also updated regularly by launching its R511 version in 2019 and R520 version in 2021, and it is scheduled to release its R530 version early in 2024.
“Today’s capital-expenditure (CapEx) challenges are expected costs and scheduling, late project changes and custom modular equipment,” added Bastone. “Meanwhile, the operational-expense (OpEx) challenges are lifecycle management, fewer resources, process data overload and IT/OT convergence.”
To address these latest issues, Honeywell recently introduced the Experion PKS Highly Integrated Virtual Environment (HIVE) that:
• is based on well-proven technology,
• is highly resilient,
• is easier to maintain,
• decouples the application and controller,
• is self-healing,
• optimizes resource use, and
• is simpler to implement.
“Experion PKS takes one-on-one redundancy and applies it to control HIVE,” explained Bastone. “This allows it to employ orchestration tools when process failures occur, easily spin up new applications as backup and alert operations personnel.”
In addition, Honeywell recently added an Ethernet interface module (EIM) to the Experion PKS HIVE environment, which gives it Ethernet connectivity and generally expands HIVE overall reach. This module was accompanied by Experion PKS Control HIVE, which further streamlines its functions by implementing simpler, standardized control strategies and employs references to specific devices rather than channels.
To provide Experion PKS HIVE’s components with the networking they require, Honeywell has also been ramping up Experion Server’s connectivity via OPC UA protocol. For example, R510 has an OPC server, R511 incorporated an OPC UA client, R520 added OPC UA Historical Access (HA), and R530 will include OPC UA Alarms & Conditions.
Likewise, Experion Batch will soon add Module Type Package (MTP) networking developed by NAMUR. This will enable skids and other process equipment assemblies to connect via OPC UA and FTE to process orchestration layers.
On the wireless front, Experion PKS HIVE can employ OneWireless as a single interface that can talk to the major wireless protocols, such as ISA100, WirelessHART and Wi-Fi. Later this year, Honeywell also plans to announce its support for the message queuing telemetry transport (MQTT) protocol and low-power, long-range, wide-area network (LoRaWAN) that will increase the capacity of ISA100 and WirelessHART devices.
To return the favor provided by these networking tools, Honeywell is also launching its Experion remote gateway, which provides secure, read-only station clients, uses existing displays, requires zero footprint, is highly scalable, has quick access for remote assistance and further minimizes total cost of ownership. Finally, the company is releasing its Expert Virtualization server that is:
• scalable with advanced virtualization features for all systems,
• ruggedized to host virtual machines outside of the server rack, and
• protected with an advanced disaster recovery solution.
“We apply these advanced migration technologies in a three-step process,” concluded Bastone. “These include collecting the user’s data on-site, migration and virtual factory acceptance test and deploying on-site.”