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Wireless the Star at Honeywell Users Group

Company executives lay out wireless road map for the future to media and customers.

"We are the leaders in wireless," proclaimed Jack Bolick, president of Honeywell Process Solutions during his keynote presentation before the annual Honeywell Process Solutions Users Group meeting June 12 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix. Bolick noted three points of focus for HPS: trust and reliability; operational excellence; and innovative technology.

A couple of key points: Under operational excellence, he noted the goal of helping customers make better decisions, despite reduced staff sizes. Other goals include using open systems to help customers integrate better solutions, and helping customers interpret all the data coming from the plant through manufacturing execution systems to enterprise resource planning systems, in order to make enterprise-wide decisions. Specifically regarding enterprise-wide solutions, Bolick noted abnormal situation management, simulation and training, and alarm management. Two innovation themes were noted—the new R300 DCS platform and wireless technology.

Thrilling performance

Roger Fradin, chief executive officer of Honeywell Automation & Control Solutions, and Bolick’s boss, reported that he was “thrilled with the business performance of Process Solutions during the past year.” Under Bolick’s leadership, according to Fradin, Honeywell Process Solutions has regained technological leadership in the industry with its Experion platform. Further, Bolick has achieved a unified, global and customer-centric strategy, Fradin said.

Fradin emphasized that Honeywell is a technology company and said that his division will invest about $900 million in research and development this year. Within Process Solutions, he will continue to invest in R&D for such things as security, wireless networking, corrosion resistance and ways to capture process knowledge.

Wireless road map

The company also unveiled its wireless technology road map. According to Marketing Vice President Harry Sim, the reason that the company waited until the Users Group Symposium to talk about its wireless strategy, and in fact, to discuss it at all, is that users come to the conference to discuss with Honeywell their plans for 18 to 24 months out. So they need to have an idea of where the technology is going.

At a press conference, Bolick took great pains to assure the assembled editors that Honeywell has been in the wireless sensor business for process control for more than three years, and that the process division is leveraging technology from the rest of Honeywell—especially aerospace and defense—for its product development.

Honeywell will ensure that its wireless technology ties into the work of the evolving industrial wireless standards bodies, such as the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation (ISA) Society’s SP100 committee and the Wireless Hart Working Group. The company also did extensive research with customers to help it define its product road map. “Plant personnel are looking for a secure, reliable, scalable, power managed and multi-functionality strategic wireless ‘cloud’ for use in their facilities,” stated Bolick.

The network designed by Honeywell will support various industrial protocols and up to 30,000 devices such as tablet personal computers (PCs) and sensors, and will co-exist with other wireless devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), pagers, walkie-talkies and cell phones. Other key network features include built-in cybersecurity technology and a redundancy feature that automatically routes critical information if a device fails.

Go-anywhere sensors

Honeywell’s newest effort surrounding sensors in the wireless road map will include strategic features such as “go-anywhere” sensors that feature self-contained power sourcing and high-speed monitoring that can provide updates as frequently as one-second intervals. Engineers are designing products for a battery life of up to ten years.

Bolick stated that one of the additional benefits a company could achieve with this wireless technology is the ability to economically install a great number of sensors in a plant. Data from these sensors connected directly to information systems (not through the control system) could enhance operators’ ability to manage processes, and managers’ ability to make better decisions.

Also at the conference, the company announced that it has attained Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner Program with competencies in Business Process & Integration Solutions and Networking Infrastructure Solutions. Microsoft Gold Certified Partners receive a rich set of benefits, including access, training and support.

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