The Strategy of Connecting People, Processes and Assets

Most IoT discussions focus on connecting devices for data collection and analysis. Honeywell’s Connected Plant approach may start with connected assets and their associated data, but it becomes much more than that by connecting people and processes too.

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Honeywell’s stance that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is not just an up-and-coming trend, but a digital transition that is already well underway, fits well with the focus of this year’s IoT Solutions World Congress on real world IoT applications. For the past few years, the focus around IoT has largely been on its technological possibilities. But as industry has gained a greater understanding of the IoT concept, its attention has shifted to real-world deployments.

A key aspect when making any IIoT connection is to approach it not just as a process of “connecting devices, but connecting functions that have historically been separate,” said Mark Roberts, director of strategy and innovation, digital transformation, at Honeywell. To illustrate his point, Roberts noted that, not so long ago, “the operations and maintenance departments at one of our customers in the mining industry used to rarely, if ever, speak to each other. Maintenance would make recommendations to operations, but those recommendations would rarely be followed up on.”

But once they started using the Connected Plant software, those departments were able to see the combined data from both functional areas—as well as all the related equipment and software. This sharing of data and insights through Honeywell Connected Plant technologies allowed the mining company to extend the capabilities of its equipment, thereby sustaining total plant output for longer periods of time.

“They were able to better manage the operation of their machinery so that it became capable of running for longer periods of time, rather than running it at full capacity until it failed,” noted Sanjit Shewale, director of marketing for Honeywell Connected Plant.

Having this kind of insight and, ultimately, control over an operation’s performance has significant bottom line benefits, added Shewale. For example, a medium-sized refinery can save up to $10 million a year through downtime reduction and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) improvements, and more than double that figure for multi-site, enterprise wide deployment.

Honeywell’s Connected Plant approach is about more than connecting assets to optimize their performance, it’s also about connecting people and processes, said Roberts. Those are “pillars of the Connected Plant—connected processes, connected people and connected assets,” he said.

Highlighting the connected people pillar, Shewale said this aspect is about “competency management. The evolution of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology is particularly important here, as it allows for significant improvements in operator capabilities. Our simulation technology—UniSim—comes into play here, as does the digital twin.” He pointed out that Honeywell is using both of these technologies in its own plants.

Citing the experience of a Honeywell Process Solutions oil refinery customer, Roberts said their use of UniSim training simulators led to a 20 percent reduction in turnaround time at the refinery. “This is a big deal, since refineries typically shut down just once every three years for major maintenance,” he said. “Which means that the people involved in your most recent shutdown may not be around for the next one. That’s where training simulators bring so much value.”

Another example of a real-world application of Honeywell’s technology in this space can be seen in the implementation of the company’s IIoT-based connected performance services (CPS) technologies at Delek Refining Inc. to improve the performance of its refinery in Tyler, Texas. Process Reliability Advisor is part of Honeywell Connected Plant initiative, which leverages IIoT technologies and Honeywell UOP’s services and domain expertise to improve a range of industrial operations—from supply chain efficiency to asset optimization.

Delek will use the Process Reliability Advisor to continuously analyze its process unit performance and detect anomalies, enabling refinery operators to resolve problems and keep the unit operating at peak performance. This technology uses Honeywell UOP’s process and fault models, fed by current plant data, to provide key performance information and process recommendations.

“Everything Honeywell is doing with the Connected Plant is based on our long history in industry and backed by our advanced solutions software and expertise in connected analytics for asset management and process control,” said Shewale. “From Honeywell UOP’s technology, to our UniSim simulation suite and Asset Management suite, it’s all connected to provide a single point of view of your connected assets for monitoring and visualization of OEE and KPI (key performance indicator) management.

When asked about the hesitation some industrial customers have about connecting their plants for IIoT-related initiatives, Roberts said that he is aware of many plants currently implementing pilot projects to test out IIoT concepts. “Having these pilot projects is good,” he said, “But you need an overall strategy around it for it to become a scalable, long-term solution.”

To help companies overcome their aversion to the perceived risks of IIoT and focus more on developing and executing related business strategies, Roberts noted that Honeywell helps minimize customers’ risk with new technology deployments through its outcome-based Assurance 360 services. The multi-year cooperative service arrangements that comprise Assurance 360 ensure the maintenance, support and optimization of Honeywell control systems, including the minimization of total cost of ownership, guaranteed performance, and use of the technologies to improve business performance.

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