Since I have to follow the Honeywell User Group (number 40, by the way) from afar, I’m relying on tweets and any Web updates or articles I can find.

So far, Walt Boyes (@waltboyes, and Industrial Automation Insider) has posted a few things to Twitter, mostly slides from presentations that are barely legible; Aaron Hand (Automation World) has posted a few tweets; Mehul Shah (LNS Research) has a couple of tweets—interestingly saying he things as an analyst that Honeywell has all the elements of a complete IIoT solution—hmmm; and Larry O’Brien, analyst at ARC Advisory Group has published a few tweets. If they would post links to articles in the tweets, that would be interesting.

Putman Publishing (Control magazine) once again is doing a digital “show daily” and therefore is posting several articles a day and blasting out an email daily.

Walt sent a tweet about obsolescence of open systems to which software geek Andy Robinson (@Archestranaut) replied. I didn’t understand until I saw Paul Studebaker’s article online (see below). The open systems in use today are getting long in the tooth. They feature Microsoft Windows XP—evidently never getting upgrades. Now there is no Microsoft support, the world has moved on, and all these DCS interfaces based on PCs are getting ancient.

Paul Studebaker, Control magazine’s editor-in-chief, reported on the keynote presented by Vimal Kapur, Honeywell Process Solutions president.

“ ‘Since Q4 of last year, since oil prices have changed, capital investments have been reduced’, said Kapur. Investments were up about 20% in 2010 and 2011, and remained flat through 2014, but so far, 2015 is down about 12%. Operational expense spending is also off.”

Kapur described how Honeywell is helping operators meet those challenges with strategies, technologies and services.

1. Honeywell will expand the role of the distributed control system (DCS). Now, the DCS has become a focal point of all control functions, taking on the functionality of PLC, alarm, safety, power management, historian, turbine control and more. Having a single system and user leverages scarce resources, and a single platform leveraging standards does more with less.

2. Cloud computing is becoming a standard part of HPS automation projects, with a logarithmic increase in the number of virtual machines in the HPS cloud over the past two years.

3. While process safety management has always depended on detecting unsafe situations, preventing them from causing an incident or accident and protecting people from any consequences.

4. For cybersecurity, Honeywell has created a team of specialists who can do audits, identify vulnerabilities and recommend solutions. But cybersecurity requires constant monitoring, so consider using a cybersecurity dashboard, “a step toward enabling a much higher level of proactivity by identifying cyber threats before it’s too late,” Kapur said.

5. Standardization holds great promise for reducing cost and time to production by allowing pre-engineering of control systems.

6. Honeywell continues to expand and refine its field device products to offer a complete line of smart instrumentation that can be preconfigured and use the cloud for fast auto-commissioning, and that have full auto-alerts and diagnostics to enable predictive maintenance.

7. OPC UA is becoming the key to leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

8. Kapur told attendees their existing investments are not fully leveraged.

9. Expansion of mobility is changing workflows and the responsibilities of individuals.

10. Honeywell is driving more outcome-based solutions in services.

Jim Montague, Control executive editor, reported on the technology keynote.

(Jim, you need to update your bio on the Control Global page)

“This is a transformative time in process controls, rivaling the open process systems introduced in the early 1990s,” said Bruce Calder, new CTO and vice president of HPS, in the “Honeywell Technology Overview and New Innovations” session on the opening day of Honeywell User Group (HUG) Americas 2015, June 22 in San Antonio, Texas. “Today, the words are cloud, big data, predictive analytics and IoT, but this situation is similar to when Honeywell pioneered and invented the DCS in the early 1970s. For instance, our Experion PKS integrates input from many sources, which is what big data and the cloud aim to do, and our Matrikon OPC solution gives us the world’s leading contender for enabling IoT in the process industries. And all these devices are producing lots more data, so the question for everyone is how to manage it.

“This is all part of the digital transformation that Honeywell has been leading for years. So Experion and our Orion interfaces enable IoT because they collect and coordinate vast amounts of data, turn it into actionable information and turn process operators into profit operators. At the same time, Honeywell enables customers to retain their intellectual property assets as they modernize and do it safely, reliably and efficiently.”

My analysis:

1. The downturn in the price of a barrel of oil whose impact we first noticed with the decline in attendance at the ARC Forum in February has really impacted Honeywell’s business.

2. Honeywell, much like all technology suppliers, addresses the buzz around Internet of Things by saying we do it—and we’ve always done it. (mostly true, by the way)

3. Otherwise, I didn’t see much new from the technology keynote—at least as it was reported so far.

4. I got some good reporting, but It’s a shame that all the media has retrenched into traditional B2B—reporting what marketing people say. You can read that for yourself on their Websites. Context, analysis, expertise are all lost right now. Maybe someone will spring up with the new way of Web reporting.

At any rate, it sounds like a good conference. About 1,200 total attendance. Even with oil in the doldrums, the vibes should be strong.

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