Data analysis: a key requirement for IIoT

09 February 2016

Suzanne Gill reports from the 27th Honeywell User Group EMEA event, where a proliferation of data analysis solutions were on display, all designed to help industry benefit from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The dramatic change in fortunes of the oil and gas sector in the past few years has had a wide-ranging impact across many industry sectors, resulting in an increasing requirement for engineers to show a good return on any technology investment. This has led many to consider doing things differently, with automated solutions becoming more relevant, and much easier to justify.

At the annual Honeywell User Group (HUG), which was held in Madrid in November 2015, the company placed a heavy emphasis on data analysis solutions. “Knowledge is the theme of this HUG event because our customers run some of the most complex industrial operations in the world and they require better knowledge to improve process safety, reliability, security and sustainability,” said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS).  He went on to explain that the influx of new engineers replacing those now reaching retirement age do not have the same wealth of experience relating to the often ageing control technology that is still being used in many process plants and so more intuitive control solutions are required to help inform decision making regarding process efficiency improvements.

Technology change
“The pace of technology change is much faster today,” continued Kapur. “Systems traditionally would have become obsolete every five to ten years. However, the underlying operating system technology used today is changing much more rapidly so there is a need to update systems more regularly.”

There is also increasing interest in cyber security issues and the IIoT. “At this point the IIoT is throwing up more questions than answers,” said Kapur. “Customers will not be throwing away their existing systems to implement IIoT so we need to help them unleash the power that they already have. I believe that control systems will become the heart of the IIoT which will rely on process data for operation, maintenance and optimisation – and that data comes from the control system.”

Kapur says that the IIoT will give engineers the ability to host applications in a more centralised environment. With different source applications becoming centralised in the Cloud it will no longer be necessary to maintain the same application multiple times and upgrades will be much easier to achieve. It will also allow less skilled engineers to manage applications. “I believe that the IIoT will allow for greater efficiencies and increased uptime. It offers nothing new, just a way of doing things differently,” he said.

In the Cloud
According to Kapur, Honeywell is already enabling customers to leverage the benefits of Cloud-based applications and this, he says, is helping to lower engineering costs and optimise scheduling during the FEED stage, where time savings of up to four months have been achieved along with up to 30% reductions in engineering costs. “We have seen an increase in projects executed in the Cloud environment – almost 2,000 projects since April 2015,” said Kapur.

Bruce Calder, chief technology officer for Honeywell Process solutions, reiterated the point that the IIoT concept is nothing new to the process industry. “We have been doing it for decades,” he said. “We already have the capacity to make use of this information to benefit plant performance. However, ever more connected devices and systems are generating vast amounts of data and the next big change will be how this data is managed.”

One-third of process and manufacturing industry executives from around the world surveyed by Honeywell said that they are already using data analytics to improve business performance. Two-thirds said that they are using data analytics capability to monitor assets to drive a proactive maintenance programme. Two-thirds also said that they were investing heavily in IT infrastructure in order to collect more data from their facilities or remote assets.

“There is a huge interest in data,” continued Calder. “However, alone it has no value. It needs to be translated into actionable information. Honeywell can now offer many solutions that help aggregate data, enabling it to be used to monitor applications and identify potential safety and performance issues.”

Cyber security solutions
Honeywell is also investing heavily in cyber security solutions. Control Engineering Europe has already reported on the introduction of its cyber security facility (Enter Link code 97155 at The next cyber security offering from the company will be Risk Manager which utilises the unified design language that runs across all Honeywell products. Risk Manager will provide an intuitive dashboard solution that offers at-a-glance cyber security information as well as providing the necessary information and work practices to correct plant deficiencies.

Key solutions demonstrated at the HUG event included Process Solution Suites for UOP Technology. This provides pre-engineered solutions with embedded Honeywell UOP knowledge. Benefits are said to include early validation of UOP process automation designs and reduced project risk, leading to earlier start-up of operations.

Another new offering presented at HUG was the DynAMo Alarm & Operations Management software family which is said to offer advanced capabilities for alarm system compliance, monitoring and rationalisation. It introduces automated enforcement of alarm policies, measurement and reporting of alarm systems performance, notification and alerting of operational problems and best practice workflows for the communication and visualisation of operational objectives, all in a single unified platform.

The expanded Uniformance Suite of process performance analysis software was also on display, demonstrating how it can provide real-time digital intelligence by collecting process and event data and utilising asset-centric analytics and visualisation technology to turn plant data into actionable information. The latest addition to this software suite is Uniformance Insight R100, a thin-client solution that offers data integration and performance monitoring for improved data visualisation.

Remote collaboration app
Honeywell Pulse is a new mobile solution designed to connect remote plant managers, supervisors and engineeringstaff to real-time plant performance. Explaining further, Calder said: “Pulse is an IOS native app that delivers process notification to users. It gives access to historical events and trends, providing collaboration capabilities for engineers wherever they may be. It can connect to many different data sources across the Honeywell portfolio to offer notification on a variety of events.”

Platform independence
The growing demand for products that easily interconnect and share data in meaningful and effective ways has resulted in increased interest in platform independent architectures for data exchange and the Platform Industrie 4.0 trade organisation has stated that OPC UA is the only standard relevant for the reference architecture model for Industry 4.0 which has resulted in a huge increase in interest and activity for OPC UA solutions.

Commenting on this subject Kapur said: “Today we communicate between the plant and the control system through different communication mechanisms. There is no one standard. There is a need for a common language which allows devices and equipment to talk to the control system. OPC UA is a key standard which is enabling this communication. Honeywell is a key provider of OPC UA and is working with different organisations to find out how the standard can become a scalable application right down to the sensor level for data aggregation.”

Expanding on this subject, Calder said: “OPC UA is the leading contender to be the device interface protocol for the language of the IIoT. To enable this connected world Honeywell has also invested heavily in the instrumentation business – from field devices to gas measurement control we are developing products with leading accuracy that can openly and securely communicate.”

Kapur also hinted at the introduction of a disruptive technology from Honeywell in 2016, revolving around the commissioning, maintenance and calibration of instruments so watch this space!

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