Kicking off its Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, this week, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) is introducing a new president to the community.
Although Vimal Kapur has been with the company for more than 25 years, his appointment as HPS president was announced just last week. He took over the position from Darius Adamczyk, who was named president and CEO of Performance Materials and Technologies (PMT). Within that structural change, HPS also moved into the PMT group, which also includes UOP (formerly Universal Oil Products) and Advanced Materials. “There are a lot of interesting areas for us to collaborate,” Kapur said, saying that it takes the business association of the two groups to the next level.
Kapur took the opportunity here this morning to outline his perspective on the process industry and where Honeywell works within that space. From a broad perspective, the global capital spend is expected to continue to be favorable over the next five years, Kapur said. China continues to be the dominant leader in capital spend, but North America and Brazil are also expected to be strong.
For North America, oil and gas will of course be the dominant spend. It will have a “profound impact,” Kapur said, not only within oil and gas itself, but throughout industry. Coal facilities switching over to gas power, for example, will take advantage of those cheaper resources. And the chemicals industry is taking advantage of the cheaper feedstocks.
The roadmap that Honeywell presents today looks very different than what it saw five years ago, Kapur noted. “Oil and gas has been a dominant impact for the last few years, and for a couple of years to come,” he said. “We’ve been looking to grow our portfolio across oil and gas for the last couple years.”
Within that environment, Honeywell is focused on how best to accelerate project execution, trying to take automation out of the critical path, Kapur said. “The large projects have become more complex,” he said. “The dollars required are very much higher than a few years back. The ROI is really moving up. The time required to do a project is higher and the cost is higher.”
Concerns with existing assets related to safety, reliability, capacity and efficiency are compounded by other challenges: skilled operator scarcity, remoteness of new locations, and cybersecurity. Kapur said that Honeywell is taking advantage of two key trends to address those concerns: cloud computing and universality.
“In the context of automation, cloud computing has huge benefits,” Kapur said. “We think it’s going to transform the industry in how process engineering is done. And it’s here and now; it’s not the future.”
Universality is the idea that everything needs to become simpler and easier to use. “We expect everything to be iPhone-like,” Kapur said.
Honeywell’s answer to universality is its Universal IO, which can be configured on-site to fit the type of I/O needed. “Having Universal IO is transformational,” Kapur said. “We can ship hardware earlier because we don’t need to worry about the type of I/O. Five years from now, Universal IO is going to be like my daughter asking me about how we lived without Google.”
But the Universal IO would not be of value without a lean execution model, Kapur said, explaining how Honeywell is taking advantage of cloud computing. With the engineering front typically happening at many locations, the cloud can bring the project to the people rather than the other way around. “It’s already transforming how project engineering is being worked,” Kapur said.
The combination of its Universal IO and cloud engineering are two legs of the stool that Honeywell has released this week called Lean Execution of Automation Projects (LEAP). Honeywell will discuss LEAP in greater length this week, so I’ll report in full as the week goes on, but in short, it is the combination of Universal IO, cloud engineering and virtualization to make automation easier and sooner in the process, working on issues iteratively rather than at the back end of the process.
“We need to take automation out of the critical path,” Kapur said. “You cannot have Universal IO and assume that the complexity of engineering is going to go away.”
Kapur told the morning audience that his priorities for HPS include the customer experience, technology innovation, continued progress of field devices, and capital efficiency. During a press briefing later in the day, he stressed the continuity of the company’s strategy, particularly considering that Kapur still reports to his predecessor Adamczyk. “We’re just executing what we’ve been saying for the last two years,” he emphasized.