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Aug 31, 2007
Process solutions company releases new-generation process controllerBack
Automation services provider Honeywell Process Solutions has released a new-gen- eration process controller that expands its popular Experion process knowledge system (PKS) platform.
Named the C300, the controller provides integrated regulatory, fast logic, sequential, and batch control applications and is supported by a series of input/output module families.
The built-in security features along with space-saving cabinet design are particularly advantageous during migrations and new installations and serve to differentiate the C300 from other units on the market, says project operations manager for Honeywell Process Solutions Africa Lance Rudolph.
“Honeywell has been through several migration projects now. For one of our large repeat customers, we’ve migrated both Honeywell and competitor systems into the new technologies and for some of the projects the reduced footprint has certainly been an enabler for an effective change-out,” he adds.
Honeywell boasts of being the only auto- mation services provider that continues to support products developed and installed as far back as 30 years ago.
Existing systems can be integrated into an advanced Experion solution, which consists of the PKS hardware platform based on Intel, Windows, and Cisco platform technologies. Fault-tolerant Ethernet and distributed system architecture are specific patented enhancements to these off-the-shelf platforms. These enhancements improve the availability of the overall system and reduce the need for re-engineering and maintenance in multiple systems in order to create larger holistic control systems.
The Experion PKS distributed system architecture enables easy scalability with transparent data distribution.
Experion integrates a variety of open-device communications protocols, including Foundation Fieldbus (FF), DeviceNet, Highway addressable remote transducer (HART) protocol, Modbus, and Process Fieldbus or Profibus.
“Our technologies are now sophisticated in terms of integrating HART and FF protocol- enabled instrumentation, which have significantly more information available from the instrumentation level for multiple purposes,” he adds.
“There is a trend of slow adoption of new technologies for control applications in our traditional customer base,” he remarks. Customers tend to use new technologies for less critical applications first – for monitoring – but Rudolph feels that, as the comfort level with the technology, the engineering around the technology, and the maintenance requirements become more embodied in the organisation, they will begin to stretch those technologies to encompass their full potential for control applications.
Digital industrial automation protocol HART is an early Fieldbus implementation that is one of the most popular industrial protocols in the world today, given its ability to communicate over legacy 4-mA to 20-mA analogue instrumentation wiring, which is still used in many installations worldwide.
OPEN PLATFORM VERSUS SECURITY
Most hardware will provide a customer with the basic functionality for controlling elements of an automation system. However, the global information economy is marked by a move away from proprietary hardware platforms and, for this reason, Rudolph says, the major automation providers have moved to open control systems, thus facing the complexities of deploying solutions in established open technology environments.
The continuous evolution of computing technology, with expanding processing capacity, as well as growing customer requirements to have easy access to process data, drove Honeywell to design Experion PKS to leverage open standards and common off-the-shelf platforms.
“Customers are pushing to move away from proprietary control systems to systems where the overall cost of ownership is reduced by the fact that much of the hardware platform is off-the-shelf, specifically the elements where evolving technology gives you significant performance improvements for price,” he explains.
However, the drawbacks of working in an open environment include security vulnerability and less control over certain elements that could be controlled previously.
“[It is important then] to have a strong process and a very clear understanding with customers of how to manage issues around the control infrastructure,” he says. “The patented technology that we embed into our control system gives us a guaranteed determinism and the integrity and security to protect that control system. The combination of open platform and security is one of our key differentiators.”
REDUCING COSTS, INCREASING PRODUCTION AND QUALITY
Most plants have at least one process that is multivariable in terms of its controllability (that is, highly inter- active control strategies that are typically too complicated for a human operator to analyse, make decisions about, and take corrective actions in a reasonable timeframe).
Model-based predictive control technology is one of the solutions that can be deployed to address these control challenges, Rudolph explains.
“Optimisation technologies augment these controller systems to yield multiprocess or multiplant optimisation and coordination,” Rudolph says.
New platforms and solutions are increasingly coming to feature built-in diagnostic capabilities. The more sophisticated ones not only log errors but, as an integral part of the solution, provide some level of intelligence for first-level analysis of the information.
“We also have solutions that look at data collection, data analysis, consolidation of typical symptoms into fault models that can be used to facilitate a predictive understanding of plant asset health and aid preventive maintenance strategies,” adds Rudolph, expanding the concept of monitoring systems and solutions.
Experion PKS provides an underly- ing framework for a suite of business effectiveness solutions. This suite of applications provides a manu- facturing execution system to support, primarily, operations and production management teams through its planning and scheduling tools, target setting (operator instructions), deviation monitoring (opera-tions monitoring), yield analysis (production reconciliation), laboratory data integration, reporting, and high-level visualisation.
Experion solutions are built on abnormal situation management (ASM) technology, which is benchmarked against principles stem-ming from the extensive research conducted by a Honeywell US-led consortium of companies, universities and refineries in the US into abnormal situations in the processing environment and what the costs and root causes of these are.
The main focus of the consortium is to provide solutions to opera- tors that enable them to bring their plants back into a normal situation much more rapidly than they would otherwise have been able to do, offering significant savings in terms of the cost of production, damaged equipment, plant shutdowns, and loss of life.
“Whether it is our solutions or com- petitor solutions, we need to ensure that there are recognised standards and that the successes are published, referenced, documented and adopted by customers,” Rudolph says of the ASM consortium’s work.
The benefits of these solutions include cost reduction, increased production volumes, and improved product quality.
“Platform and technology synergy, and our ability to leverage the solutions from our various business units into an integrated solution, are what differentiates us,” he adds.
Honeywell Africa’s regional office is striving to become more involved in front-end engineering with customers, where systems and solutions are defined and decisions are made about deployment, involving itself more in design, testing, commissioning and ongoing support.
“This gives us the opportunity to take the wide variety of products and solutions that we have, understand the customer’s requirements, budget, the site location’s environmental conditions and, based on these criteria, design, implement and install an effective and optimal solution,” Rudolph says.
It is imperative, he adds, for local teams in a global corporation to have that understanding and the skill set required to leverage the knowledge repository of the global engineering community to speed delivery and solve problems in process-related applications at a local level.
Recent organisational developments at Honeywell Africa have indeed focused on building that mindset and capability. Rudolph believes that this balance between local competence and support of global standards and best practices with an acceptable turnaround time differentiates Honeywell’s offering from that of competitors.
Honeywell has Experion auto- mation solutions deployed in the chemicals sector, in the life sciences, in mining, petrochemicals, power gen- eration, and refining, as well as pulp, paper, and printing processes.
Commercial and industrial security is another important sector for the company. For example, it provides integrated access control and digital video monitoring in the banking and petrochemicals industry.
Its continental activities cover the implementation of Experion technology in Uganda, Ghana, Angola, and Nigeria. It is also being used to support a major pipeline project between Cameroon and Chad.
Edited by: Laura Tyrer
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