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June 12, 2006

Headlines from Today's Activities
• Honeywell management shares process automation vision
• Next-gen wireless strategy to be offered to SP100
• User group leadership reports progress, priorities
• Technology roadmap reiterates consistent evolution

Fradin has a vision (and Bolick is its prophet)
At Monday's opening general session of the 31st annual symposium of the Honeywell Americas User Group, Jack Bolick, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), and his boss, Roger Fradin, CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions, presented the latest evolution of Honeywell's vision for the future of process automation.

Fradin began by complimenting Bolick and his HPS team for a spectacular year in 2005, and a fine first half of 2006. "I am very happy with Jack and his team," Fradin said. "Above all I want to thank our users for the double-digit growth that HPS is achieving," Fradin went on, "as we have shipped almost 1,500 Experion systems since we met last year."

In addition to all of the fine development work in the Experion area, Fradin noted that Honeywell, because of its rich experience in radio technologies in its security, aerospace and building automation divisions, is "driving the standard for industrial wireless." Fradin also noted Honeywell's unique status as the owner of a group of working chemical plants that they can use as full-scale test beds, not only for wireless products but for entire systems.

A short while later, Jack Bolick himself took the stage, and welcomed the audience. "It isn't enough to have operational excellence at Honeywell," he proclaimed, "but we have to focus on how we deliver operational excellence to you, the end users." It is fundamentally about trust, trust in relationships, he said. Punctuated with video clips of Control's own editor in chief, Walt Boyes, Bolick eloquently described Honeywell's passion for the voice of the customer.

As Honeywell moves into non-traditional markets like biotech and pharma, with big wins at users like Genentech and Boehringer, he said the question is, "How do we help you make better decisions faster?"

One of the ways to do that, he said, is with open systems. "Open systems deliver new realities," he declared, "in the linking of control to MES and to ERP. We do this with our PKS Advantage program, and we're doing it with our next generation of wireless systems, with our abnormal situations group, and with alarm management. Open systems," Bolick declared, "enable you to achieve results across the enterprise, not just in a single plant."

Then Bolick turned to the Honeywell vision for the wireless workplace. "Honeywell is working collaboratively with SP100, with HART Wireless Working Group, with WINA, and other standards making bodies to produce a standards-based wireless architecture that can be multifunctional, secure and reliable, with redundant design and ease of implementation," he announced. He went on to describe the first applications, noting that use in control loops of wireless is "some way off."

"Wireless is here today," he concluded. "We are the leaders in wireless."

"We define our success by making you successful." This broad view of successful partnership shared by Honeywell ACS CEO Roger Fradin (above), complemented Honeywell Process Solutions' President Jack Bolick's pragmatic view of customer intimacy (below): "We're committed to building trusted relationships while delivering operational excellence and technical innovation."


Honeywell emerges from wireless cloud
With Honeywell marketing chief Harry Sim moderating, a panel consisting of Jack Bolick, David Kaufman, business development director for wireless, and Honeywell systems consultant Ken Moshier presented the company's long-awaited next-generation wireless solution.

Bolick began by suggesting that the environment is right for wireless. "Technologies like plant optimization, compliance, safety, and equipment health monitoring," he said, "are ready for wireless." Those more difficult applications, the "mission critical" control applications may come later. "Wireless technology is advancing," Bolick said, "becoming cost-effective and standardizing." Bolick pointed to existing Honeywell wireless applications, like IntelaTrac and Mobile PKS, wireless transmitters, wireless worker solutions and wireless services.

In an important comment, Bolick noted that one of the chief applications of wireless is to connect many more sensors than was formerly cost effective, directly to the process historian, and bypassing the control loop system. This will make it possible to convert assumed value variables to real time process variables in simulations and advanced control models.

Ken Moshier then discussed the use of RFID tracking in the industrial enterprise. "People and asset location become datapoints in the system," he said. Honeywell's ultra wide band RFID implementation makes active tracking practical, at long distances (upwards of 1,000 feet in line-of-sight, thousands of tags, and with both 2D and 3D resolution with one foot resolution for tracking) for coverage of large areas. "The most important thing," Moshier reported, "is the fact that these systems are completely integrated into PKS or building automation systems."

As these systems are adopted, new techniques can be used, such as real-time mustering, which will effectively and cost effectively meet OSHA standards—some for the first time—and with high values return and integration to customers' standard operating plans. Peoples' locations can automatically prevent accidental start-up or shut-down of volatile units; automatically confirm that the required personnel are either in or not in an area (startup of rotating machinery, for example); can be graphically associated with key business information, and can be added to the plant historian for ease in analysis when an accident does occur. "The plant is safer through prevention and mitigation," Moshier said, "since we can provide real time mustering data, 'man down' data, unique tools and equipment, and do all of it in real time."

Dave Kaufman took the floor to describe the wireless infrastructure system that can do all this and more. "As was said this morning, we're obsessed with the voice of the customer," he said. "We did research that clustered around these eleven key customer system requirements: security, reliable communications, good power management, open, multi-speed monitoring, multi-functional, scalable, globally useable, quality of service, multi-protocol, and 'control ready'.

"Clearly some of these are antitheses, but we think we've been able to juggle them into a suitable architecture," Kaufman continued.

"We're using as our radio partner a company called 3Ti, whose iNode product is the same tech as that used on Air Force One, the presidential motorcade, the British Prime Minister's security systems and to protect the US bases in Fallujah in Iraq," he said.

"This is our next generation system," Kaufman pointed out, "and existing Honeywell wireless devices can connect to this system as a subnetwork through a gateway."

Specifically pertaining to users' requirements, the next-generation system provides:

  • WPA2, AES-based security with device authorization, fulfilling required confidentiality, message integrity, replay protection, source authentication, resistance to denial-of-service attacks, and convenient key-management
  • High-speed, frequency-hopping spread spectrum mesh tolerant sensor network
  • Typical ten-year battery life
  • Open, multi-vendor implementation via the PKS Advantage program
  • Latency as low as one second
  • Integrated 802.11 network for sensors and handhelds
  • Scalable from one gateway/one sensor to: up to 1000 sensors at 1 second update, up to 10k sensors at 10 second update, up to 30k sensors at 30 second update
  • 54 Mbit (9 Mbps effective) speed, and 802.11 based
  • Uses globally available 2.4 GHz band
  • Optimized quality of service
  • Multi-protocol, universal wireless architecture with gateways for various protocols
  • 'Control ready' redundant system

In addition, Kaufman said, Honeywell has a full suite of wireless services such as assessment, system design, implementation and network management for the end user without the onboard capability.

The intellectual property behind this new architecture will be offered to the standards making bodies via the SP100 RFP process, specifically to SP100.11. But in the meantime, Honeywell is making the technology available to anyone in the PKS Advantage program, and four radio kit makers (Aerocomm, Cirronet, LS Research, and Omnex) have signed on to make open sensor radio kits that anybody can use.

Harry Sim noted, "As with Cisco when they offer a new router that anticipates a standard, what we are doing is producing a pre-standard release, one that we have tried very hard to match to what we think will be the eventual standard, and which will be harmonized with the eventual standard when it is released."

Beta testing is slated for early in 2007, with product shipment in mid to late 2007.

Jack Bolick on Honeywell's next-gen wireless strategy: "We see wireless as a catalyst for bringing more data back to increasingly powerful simulation, modeling and optimization tools; a catalyst for squeezing more productivity out of manufacturing assets."

(Click diagram to enlarge.)


UG Leadership Reports Progress, Priorities
In its budgeted funding of user-identified enhancements to its system offerings, Honeywell Process Solutions gives its user community an unprecedented voice in setting the ongoing technology agenda of the company.

An annual fixture of the Honeywell User Group Symposium is an update from user group leadership on the progress toward achieving goals prioritized by it the User Input Subcommittee (UIS), a systems-focused group including representatives from 23 global companies from a wide range of industries, in turn chartered by more than a dozen different Customer Advisory Boards focused on different technology and industry spheres.

"With this year's R11 release, the UIS has so far brought 168 enhancements to the user community," said Shell's Heinz Janiec and UIS chair, commenting on the cumulative achievements of the program, which Honeywell has funded since the 1980s. "These enhancements would have cost an individual company millions of dollars to implement on their own," he said. Among the key issues influencing the UIS' current priorities is managing operating system migrations from Microsoft's Windows 2000 to Windows XP and the upcoming Vista release, Janiec said.

Tom Kindervater of Marathon Petroleum reiterated the importance of participation by the user community in the company's Customer Advisory Boards. "They're an opportunity to influence Honeywell's technology direction, to learn product plans and strategies, to network with industry peers, and ultimately to get higher value products and services," he said.

Shell's Janiec on the importance of Honeywell's User Input Subcommittee: "A mechanism to obtain the most desired system enhancements."


Technology roadmap reiterates consistent evolution
"Our technology focus is first and foremost to listen to our customers," declared DonnaLee Scaggs, HPS vice president of technology, leading off a review of the company's technology roadmap over the next several years.

"We're committed to providing ongoing support of existing systems and to easily migrate to our new technologies at your own pace," Scaggs added. The other driving forces behind the company's technology roadmap were an acknowledgement that many companies have different needs ("one size doesn't fit all") as well as the need for Honeywell to stay ahead of its customers and the market when it comes to innovation, she said.

Batting clean-up for the morning sessions, Jason Urso, HPS director of marketing, stepped the Honeywell faithful through a wide-ranging presentation across the company's functional areas, summarizing release dates and timelines for specific functionality releases in areas such as MES applications, the company's UniSim simulation environment, and other specialized applications for areas such a blending and movement automation (BMA).

But the cornerstone of this year's presentation remained the R300 release of the company's Experion Process Knowledge System, which was announced at last year's meeting. And while last year the focus was on specifics of the new C300 series hardware and form factor, the Experion story this year focused more on the successful integration and migration of customer's existing automation investments into the new platform.

Migration, integration, and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrable benefits being booked by beta testers and Honeywell's own internal deployments. In the case of PKS features designed to improve operator effectiveness, for example, "We've shown we can improve overall operator responsiveness by 35%—savings of $500,000 to a million dollars annually," Urso said. "These are results we're validating at our own facilities in Geismar."

"Helping fewer people to make better decisions faster." DonnaLee Scaggs, Honeywell Process Solutions VP of technology, cut to the chase in describing industry's demographic bind and the deliverables for her group's development efforts.

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