Photo by Keith Larson
“With the ever-present convergence of IT and OT, there’s more IT emphasis being put on OT. We have to manage those two worlds colliding.” Honeywell’s Joe Bastone has been steering the direction of the Experion PKS automation platform for eight years.

Experion PKS addresses customer challenges

June 10, 2024
Honeywell’s Joe Bastone has been steering the direction of the Experion PKS automation platform for eight years

Migration from any Honeywell distributed control system (DCS) as old as Experion PKS R410 can now be made in a single hop to the latest R530. This is one of the many features of the latest version, setting the stage for a future filled with feature-pack enhancements to the system.

“R530 has been out for just over two months,” explained Joe Bastone, who’s held the title of Experion product marketing director for almost eight years. He co-presented a roadmap for Experion PKS along with Alicia Kempf, who’ll be assuming responsibility for the line, during the 2024 Honeywell Users Group this week in Madrid.

Many industry challenges are addressed in the R530 release. “Managing cost and scheduling gets more complex and diverse, and there are fewer experts,” said Bastone. “There are late project changes, and there’s often that idea of custom modular equipment—everyone says they want standard equipment, but they want their standard equipment.”

Lifecycle management continues to be a challenge. “You have fewer resources because a lot of expertise has left the workforce,” explained Bastone. “There are a lot of new people entering the workforce, and there’s a ton of process data out there. With the ever-present convergence of IT and OT convergence, there’s more IT emphasis being put on OT. We have to manage those two worlds colliding.”

Virtualization boosts flexibility

Experion’s Highly Integrated Virtual Environment (HIVE) architecture incorporates IT, I/O and control, decoupling hardware and software and enabling flexibility in its virtual reconfigurability. The HIVE elements can be used individually or collectively, in tandem with existing systems and infrastructure.

“IO Hive is a scalable, modular approach, making it easy to place I/O where it’s needed,” explained Bastone. “Control HIVE lets me break apart the pieces of the control strategies. And IT HIVE expresses a centralized IT infrastructure.”

IO HIVE essentially decouples I/O and control. “HIVE is fault-tolerant Ethernet,” said Bastone. “We embrace standardization with the Universal Process Cabinet (UPC). Now I have my CN100s and Series-C I/O. I would love it if all the systems only had Series-C I/O, but it’s a mix. We connect that via the Ethernet Interface Module (EIM), whether it’s EtherNet/IP or Profinet. Now you have a common approach to open protocol support.”

Control HIVE is based on proven technology, and it decouples applications and controllers. “It’s highly resilient, self-healing, easier to maintain, optimizes resource usage and is simple to implement. We’re able to have a more resilient system,” explained Bastone.

The Experion remote gateway is one of the R530 feature packs. “It’s a secure read-only station client that connects to an Experion system via the business network,” said Bastone. “It uses existing displays, so there’s no re-engineering. It gives live updates with alarms and events, and it’s browser-independent.”

The Experion PKS 500 series includes 10 different enhancements that were submitted by end users and selected by the Honeywell User Input Subcommittee (UIS). “One thing selected by the subcommittee from an end-user submission was the dynamic operator watchlist, which gives you the ability to drag and drop parameters via a picker,” explained Bastone. “You can go back and forth instead of bouncing from display to display to display.”

Cybersecurity has also been at the forefront of Experion PKS development. “We have system-level certifications, and we have built-in system hardening, so Experion PKS is secured out of the box,” said Bastone. “We have geographically independent access control and antivirus qualification and support with Trellix, Symantec and Carbon Black. That provides a foundation for Forge Cybersecurity+. The two go hand in hand. It’s important to have a secure foundation for a solid OT cyber program.”

Honeywell introduced its Control Network Module (CNM) earlier this year. “I’m careful not to call it a switch, so the IT police don’t swoop in and take control of it,” cautioned Bastone. “It comes configured and can be used with safety systems or with IO HIVE. It’s a network device for Control and IO integration. An expansion module has eight additional ports. It’s supported in the Universal Process Cabinet. A lot of Modbus TCP devices will be connected through the CNM.”

The next steps for Experion PKS after 530 will come in the shape of feature packs, explained Kempf. “Feature packs are a way to roll out without a new major release. It provides incremental functionality for those who want it,” she explained.

The Modbus TCP on EIM, for example, is one of those feature packs. “Now EIM will support Modbus,” said Kempf. “It offloads from the C300 and has EIM as the centralized module to bring in those protocols.”

OPC UA is supported on Experion already, but a new feature pack will support OPC UA Client on the Unit Operations Controller (UOC). “We’ll support UOC in HIVE, so we’re going to be able to get all the benefits of the HIVE on the UOC platform,” said Kempf.

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.