Looking into a more connected future
At the 2018 EMEA Honeywell User Group (HUG) conference Suzanne Gill got the opportunity to speak with John Rudolph, president of Honeywell Process Solutions, about the process industry’s migration towards more connected enterprises.
Traditionally, companies have been prevented from making any radical changes to their systems and processes because of the existing skillsets of their workforce. Rudolph believes that this longstanding status quo is set to change radically in the coming years. He said: “I believe that the inflection point towards more connected plants will come about as a reactive move, caused by the fear of experienced engineers retiring from the workforce. We are now really close to this inflection point, and many process industries are having to start addressing these issues.”
The first step
The process of digitising a plant can be done slowly, but Rudolph says that the important first step is to get onto a common platform, one that is sustainable and with regularly updated and maintained architecture. “You need to know that you can make changes in 10 years time – maybe without the input of the person that originally set up the system. It is important that this platform is adopted across the entire facility or enterprise because every event will have an impact on another event,” he said.
There was much talk at the HUG 2018 event about Honeywell’s changing relationship with its customers, and about the move towards greater risk-sharing and partnering with its customers. On this subject Rudolph said: “Many of our customers have, traditionally, invested heavily in their own people and their own inventory to prevent their processes from failing – so we know that they have costs associated with reliability. When we first introduced Assurance360 offering we looked at all of our customers pain points – alarms, is the Advanced Process Control (APC) being fully utilised, etc – we worked all these things into an algorithm to give a satisfaction level that we are able to provide, based on the outcomes. So, if we don’t meet the agreed terms of a contract we get paid less. If we hit the agreed terms we get paid more. We are not yet at the point of full sharing of risk with customers but we are continuing to work towards the development of performance-related contracts that are based on overall outcomes.”
Rudolph offers an example of the benefits of such a solution. “We have one customer, who before taking out the Assurance360 contract would have 150 incidents a month on average, after the contract they have had no more than three incidents every three months.”
Rudolph concluded our conversation with a prediction that within two or three years we will start to see more platforms that resemble Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for the control layer. “These systems will be simpler to use and connect and will add more value,” said Rudolph. “There will be more immersive systems coming into play which will allow engineers to test system limits and trial new ideas. These will include digital twins, 3D and immersive technologies – gamification of learning – which will make life more fun for tomorrow’s engineers. Technology is making it possible to learn in a more interesting way today and the industry needs to embrace this.”>
Source: Control Engineering Europe - All Articles