Three of the eleven hours I spent on a variety of video platforms Monday and Tuesday were “at” Honeywell User Group, better known as HUG. I appreciate the virtual conference since there are a minimum of three places for me to attend this week. If they were all physical locations, I would never have made it.

This HUG was more interesting than I remember from the past couple of years. Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) has, well, er, solved several hanging issues that were critical to its future success. The big one is moving with software-defined and decoupling hardware and software. This is major goal of the Open Process Automation Forum and of major Honeywell customer, ExxonMobil. It has also opened an innovative migration path for its legacy TDC systems to its latest Experion C300 systems avoiding the dreaded rip-and-replace. I was pretty impressed with the progress since last year. I don’t hear from HPS on a regular basis, so this was welcome news.

There are two press releases below. The first discusses Operator Advisor, part of its plant-wide optimization strategy. 

Jason Urso, HPS CTO, discussed the Autonomous Operations Maturity Model in his keynote and a later session with media. This model contains five levels all of which find HPS hard at work building out. Following is a brief outline.

  • Level 1—automation optimization. Introduced Electronic Work Instructions and Forge Plant-wide optimizer.
  • Level 2—Intelligent Operations. Here, Urso discussed expanding use of digital twins for modeling and HALO automated intelligence (see below).
  • Level 3—Remote Operations. For example, well head, pipeline, offshore, and mining operations. Urso discussed project execution support services leading to fully remote operations.
  • Level 4—Resilient Operations. Experion HIVE I/O increasing in useability and flexibility, decouples hardware and software eliminating concern with end-of-life issues for equipment.
  • Level 5—Autonomous Operations. HPS have introduced Energy Control System with market APIs. 

Overall, an informative couple of days devoted to Honeywell Process Solutions.

Operator Advisor Added to HALO Suite

Honeywell announced the addition of Operator Advisor to its Experion Highly Augmented Lookahead Operations (HALO) suite. 

This software solution enables plant owners to objectively measure gaps and drive operator effectiveness to the next level. This market-first solution presents users – including oil and gas, chemical, refining and petrochemical organizations – with a consolidated scorecard of enterprise automation utilization and recommended steps to address performance-related gaps.

Honeywell’s solution uses machine learning-powered analytics, a type of artificial intelligence, to gather insights from enterprise data sources such as distributed control systems and funnel those insights into dashboards. These dashboards can provide operations managers and supervisors with a clear and complete view of operator performance and improvement opportunities.

By understanding how operator actions, inactions and workload levels contribute to optimal production, organizations can develop targeted training programs, make strides toward autonomous operations and build process resilience – all of which can help them better compete in the digital age.

“According to the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium, 40% to 70% of industrial accidents are linked to human error,” said Pramesh Maheshwari, vice president and general manager, Lifecycle Solutions and Services, Honeywell Process Solutions. “This underscores the importance of deploying an enterprise-wide competency program that empowers organizations and workers through use of advanced technologies like machine learning to improve plant performance, uptime, reliability and safety.”

As part of Honeywell’s Workforce Excellence portfolio, HALO Operator Advisor is a timely response to several industry trends, including the global desire for post-COVID-19 preparedness and resilience, growing operational complexity, the aging industrial workforce and the urgent need to upskill next-generation recruits.

Honeywell data reveals the transformational impact HALO Operator Advisor can have on plant operations. Potential benefits include the reduction of 75% of incidents and human errors, leading to the recovery of $1.5 million annually per plant of production loss due to worker performance; a $2 million annual reduction in operational costs by optimizing worker productivity and training and advancing toward full autonomous plant operation; a $1.3 million annual savings in headcount through optimized production; and a $1 million savings in annual maintenance costs through improved equipment reliability.

HALO Operator Advisor will be available in October 2021. For more information, visit: https://www.honeywellprocess.com and check the HALO Operator Advisor Service Note.

Cybersecurity Research Reports Increase In USB Threats

  • Report finds that 79% of cyber threats originating from removable media could critically impact operational technology (OT) environments
  • 2021 Honeywell USB Threat Report finds 37% of all cybersecurity threats were designed to use removable media – nearly double last year’s findings

According to a report released today by Honeywell, USB-based threats that can severely impact business operations increased significantly during a disruptive year when the usage of removable media and network connectivity also grew.

Data from the 2021 Honeywell Industrial USB Threat Report indicates that 37% of threats were specifically designed to utilize removable media, which almost doubled from 19% in the 2020 report. The research also highlights that 79% of cyber threats originating from USB devices or removable media could lead to a critical business disruption in the operational technology (OT) environment.  At the same time, there was a 30% increase in the use of USB devices in production facilities last year, highlighting the growing dependence on removable media.

The report was based on aggregated cybersecurity threat data from hundreds of industrial facilities globally during a 12-month period. Along with USB attacks, research shows a growing number of cyber threats including remote access, Trojans and content-based malware have the potential to cause severe disruption to industrial infrastructure.

“USB-borne malware was a serious and expanding business risk in 2020, with clear indications that removable media has become part of the playbook used by attackers, including those that employ ransomware,” said Eric Knapp, engineering fellow and director of cybersecurity research for Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “Because USB-borne cyber intrusions have become so effective, organizations must adopt a formal program that addresses removable media and protects against intrusions to avoid potentially costly downtime.”

Many industrial and OT systems are air-gapped or cut off from the internet to protect them from attacks. Intruders are using removable media and USB devices as an initial attack vector to penetrate networks and open them up to major attacks. Knapp says hackers are loading more advanced malware on plug-in devices to directly harm their intended targets through sophisticated coding that can create backdoors to establish remote access. Hackers with remote access can then command and control the targeted systems.

The 2021 report includes data from Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange (SMX) technology, which is designed to scan and control USB drives and removable media. To reduce the risk of USB-related threats, Honeywell recommends that organizations utilize several layers of OT cybersecurity software products and services such as Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange (SMX), the Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity Suite, people training and process changes.

Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange (SMX) provides advanced threat detection for critical infrastructure by monitoring, better protecting and logging use of removable media throughout industrial facilities. The Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity Suite can monitor for vulnerabilities such as open ports or the presence of USB security controls to strengthen endpoint and network security, while also ensuring better cybersecurity compliance.Read the full report here and visit Honeywell Forgeersecurity.

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