Honeywell Offers Peek at Control Room of Future

June 21, 2013
Unveiling the latest control center innovations at the Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) gives operators new ways to collaborate, move around, and understand the data in their processes.

Spitting out product attributes faster than a Ronco commercial, Jason Urso, chief technology officer for Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), took the keynote audience through a rapid tour of the company’s latest offerings at this week’s Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium in Phoenix. Taking center stage this year was a sneak peak at Honeywell’s “control room of the future,” a series of advances for the company’s Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) Orion platform.

With his usual flair, this year returning to the Starship captain role he played when launching the Experion PKS last year, Urso and his team detailed the benefits of Honeywell’s virtualization and universal I/O technologies. 

Through the control room on stage, Honeywell demonstrated several technologies, including the Experion Collaboration Station with expanded capabilities, a new Experion PKS Operator Console, mobile devices along with latest version of its OneWireless Network, and the recently announced Premium Platform for Experion Virtualization Solutions.

Urso pointed to key challenges in the control room of today, including operator fatigue, leading to cognitive fixation and impaired judgment; inefficient graphics; and poor mobility.

The new console is expected to begin delivery in the first half of next year, and it will incorporate advanced touchscreen technologies to provide better graphics with better situational awareness; increased operator mobility; and enhanced collaboration capabilities.

Looking at the upper right of the operator’s workstation, for example, can provide situational awareness at a glance, with the ability for the operator to pan and zoom for more information. A mobile station is integrated with the operator station, enabling the operator to step away from the console and still maintain situational awareness.

The centerpiece of the operator setup is the Experion Collaboration Station, which enables faster responses to routine and emergency situations by displaying distributed assets at multiple locations. This allows plants to rapidly establish communication among centralized operations, field operations and operational specialists in separate locations. This is particularly useful for production sites with distributed assets such as offshore oil and gas operations, pipelines, and large refineries with centralized control rooms.

“Collaboration in today’s control rooms is simply antiquated,” Urso commented, describing a typical emergency situation in which several over the operator’s shoulder, barking often conflicting instructions and adding to the operator’s stress level.

In contrast, the new collaboration station uses multi-touch gestures to access various plants or sites in a company’s network, getting a complete view of how the plant is operating. It pulls those experts away from the operator, letting him continue what he needs to do as the others go over the details separately. “It also has integrated voice and video, allowing you to engage remote experts as if they’re standing next to you in the control room,” Urso said, adding, “There’s a lot more innovation yet to come here. It’s important for us to start thinking about a new operations model.”

The focus is on connecting people to information in a consumable manner, and creating a relationship between personnel and the assets that need to run at top performance. Other pillars of this solution include Honeywell’s True Universal Process and Safety IO, which can be configured with software rather than needing any additional hardware. This means that cabinets can be built sooner in a project, based on I/O count, not I/O mix, and there’s no problem dealing with late instrumentation changes.

Urso also spoke of Honeywell’s work in virtualization, which the company pioneered two years ago. With virtualization, which enables a single server to run multiple operating systems and applications, a project implemented 18 months ago was able to reduce 30 nodes and a collection of PCs and servers to five virtual servers.

The blade server chassis introduced for process industries earlier this month enabled another 80% reduction in physical equipment. The chassis is purpose-built for process control, Urso noted, and takes the place of the five virtual servers.

“When you think about this in a process workflow, it’s absolutely game changing,” Urso said. “In a traditional project, we have to impose an instrumentation freeze. It has to be done to start building custom cabinets. You have to start ordering all the servers and all the PCs. People travel from all over the world to start working directly on the physical equipment.”

Every step is dependent on the prior step, pushing risk further and further out in the schedule to when you can least afford risk. “By day one, the equipment could be in need of a hardware refresh already,” Urso added.

With virtualization, on the other hand, you can start engineering sooner and without people traveling. Used with Experion Orion, Urso said, it decouples application engineering from your physical equipment, allowing you to work in parallel. “You can ship the servers at very end of project because you don’t need to do any of your application engineering on the hardware,” he said. “Using cloud computing technology, it allows you to start working on a project without having a bit of physical equipment on the ground.”

Sponsored Recommendations

Understanding and Using E-Stops

E-stops, or emergency stop switches, are used to ensure machine as well as personnel safety. They are used to provide a consistent and predictable failsafe response on a wide ...

Demystifying motor disconnect switches: What are they and how are they used?

From conveyor belts to drum mixers, motors are used in virtually every industrial application to drive machinery. Equipment downtime is the main motivation behind monitoring and...

Full Line of DIN Rail Terminal Blocks Video

Altech offers an extensive line of DIN Rail Terminal Blocks including all major Connection Technologies available in the industry to meet requirements for a vast variety of applications...

The Value of Integrating DIN Rail Cylindrical Fuse Holders Into Your Designs

What short circuit currents do I have to consider when purchasing a DIN rail cylindrical fuse holder? That data is available from the manufacturer. For example, Altech cylindrical...