Updates from Honeywell

I am in a hallway of the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando attending my first Honeywell User Group meeting in several years. I missed a couple before the pandemic shut things down. More than 1,200 people here, so it’s a lively return to conference season. 

There were several announcements in CTO Jason Urso’s usual high energy product keynote this morning. The one I am reporting today deals with sustainability—of which they had much to say. Other announcements will discuss the future of process control and other goodies. I was also sitting on an update from Honeywell Forge (software) that I’ll tack on to the end of this report.

Honeywell Introduces Emissions Control and Reduction Initiative

This initial offering will focus on the detection and reporting of fugitive methane emissions to help users reduce production losses, improve productivity and comply with ongoing legislation.

Honeywell announced an Emissions Control & Reduction Initiative designed to help customers achieve carbon neutrality in a wide range of areas. The initiative will initially focus on helping oil and gas customers with upstream, midstream and downstream operations to monitor and reduce fugitive methane emissions, which are more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

By combining its portfolio of fixed, portable and personal gas detection solutions with gas cloud imaging cameras, Honeywell will provide customers with early detection of fugitive methane emissions, including the precise location of any leaks and associated data analytics and trends. Equipped with this data, users can act quickly to address leaks and other identified risks to minimize production losses and maintain compliance with legislation.

The solution – which combines wireless gas detector technology with enterprise-wide data management solutions – works in tandem with existing Leak Detection & Repair (LDAR) testing methods to improve the accuracy of reporting and increase productivity by enabling users to find production losses faster.

Honeywell’s methane detection capability will be available to customers in Q4 2022.

Honeywell Introduces Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse

Honeywell announced the Spring 2022 release of new offerings and enhancements to Honeywell Forge, the leading enterprise performance management software solution, designed to assist customers in accelerating the digital transformation of their operations. This class of offerings, which includes Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse, will help organizations simplify operations and lower costs by providing increased visibility to data as well as real-time insights, monitoring and automation. 

“Our new Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse offering brings a scalable and cloud-based solution to help distribution centers accelerate their productivity, predictability and transformation strategies,” said Kevin Dehoff, president and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “We are proud to also introduce several enhancements to our current software solutions across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors, enabling enterprises to optimize asset performance and drive operational savings.”

Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse provides organizations with two modules that provide real-time visibility across their warehouse site operations and advanced analytics to reduce unplanned downtime, address recurring challenges and automate legacy processes. The Site Operations module features a dashboard that indicates how sites are performing against plan and helps managers identify repetitive bottlenecks and proactively address issues that may impact performance. The interface, which is optimized for tablets, enables enterprise benchmarking, monitors areas such as picking and shipping and makes recommendations to achieve daily targets. Users can use the Honeywell Forge Connect edge solution to connect devices and integrate with standard warehouse systems.

Honeywell is launching enhancements to other software across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors.

• The all-new Honeywell Forge Pilot Connect mobile app is our latest aerospace offering, designed to improve fuel savings while engaging flight crews in their companies’ sustainability and efficiency initiatives. The easy-to-use app works with Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency to provide pilots with briefing information like historic fuel averages, debriefing information like trajectory analytics, and customizable KPIs and targets.

• For the commercial real estate industry, Honeywell Forge Predictive Maintenance provides near real-time visibility into buildings’ health & performance, and service cases in order to prioritize asset issues based on safety, operational and quality risks.

• Additionally, Sine occupant experience solutions provide frictionless access to buildings via mobile Bluetooth. Other improvements include new scheduling and capacity planning features along with occupant experience enhancements such as better feedback, information and wayfinding.

• UniSim Design now provides a common simulation platform for upstream oil and gas, downstream processing and sustainability. It contains new features for modeling Green H2, CO2 capture, transportation and storage. 

• Honeywell Forge Inspection Rounds offers new features for industrials customers that allow the capture of images and videos during task execution and the creation of reusable checklists to drive standardization across an organization. Other additions include GPS-enabled monitoring of worker proximity, enhanced capabilities for gaining insights from historical data trends and improved asset identification through NFC tagging.

• For OT Cybersecurity, Honeywell is rolling out a new Cyber Care services offering to supplement its Process Control Network (PCN) Hardening Service. After completion of the initial PCN hardening services to help industrial companies reduce their OT attack vectors, Cyber Care provides an option to purchase bi-annual onsite Cyber Care visits by Honeywell consultants for maintaining previously implemented networking hardening benefits and identifying potential additional PCN hardening settings for enhanced protection.

Honeywell Forge is a purpose-built software solution on a native edge-to-cloud, data-driven architecture designed to accelerate digital transformation of operations. Explore the Spring Release, learn more about Honeywell Forge, request a demo and follow Honeywell Forge on LinkedIn for the latest news.

Updated: Schneider Electric Launches Universal Automation Discovery Packs

Updated and corrected. I’m just off the “phone” with Louis Arone of Schneider Electric. Here are a few amplifications to what I wrote earlier this week.

  1. This release deals with factory automation, not process automation. Specifically technologies in use with the Modicon product line.
  2. Universal Automation is an organization. Check out the website. It lists 31 current members. The organization promotes standardization under IEC 61499.
  3. The foundation is software defined control. For Schneider Electric the instantiation is EcoStruxure Automation Expert software.
  4. Schneider Electric is developing on two PLC platforms, a drive platform, and a softPLC platform.
  5. While my comments about how important open automation is to the process side still stand, this conversation revealed the same importance to Schneider’s strategy for factory automation, as well.
  6. Ethernet remains the core network, just as my conversations with executives going back several generations emphasized.

Schneider Electric took a bold step last year announcing an open control platform evidently not proprietary to itself at all. Based on IEC 61499 open distributed control standards, it put this control out into the wild and asked competitors to forsake their own proprietary boxes and join it in the brave new Open Process Automation world. 

Pause while we listen for the rush to join.

Here are two articles I wrote last year about the announcement—Hannover announcement and Automation Expert.

Somewhere about the time of the sale of Foxboro and other assets to Schneider Electric, Foxboro executives told me firmly that they were betting heavily on the Open Process Automation  initiative as their competitive advantage. And to this day years later Schneider Electric has been a stalwart supporter of the work.

Today’s news involves release of Discovery Packs designed to jump start the program by offering free 12-month engineering software licenses. This obviously targets people who might possibly become internal advocates in end user companies spanning the globe. I did not count the number of references to innovators. You can catch that drift.

The news in brief:

  • New program designed to help industry professionals break the confines of traditional systems and enable next-generation automation
  • Innovative offer addressing the barrier of single vendor lock-in by testing the ability to decouple hardware from software using tools to reduce commissioning time and associated costs
  • Free 12-month engineering software license available for innovators to explore the benefits of universal automation and IEC61499-based solutions

Schneider Electric launched its Universal Automation Discovery Packs program in the U.S. May 18, 2022, giving innovators the opportunity to explore the benefits of universal automation. Through this program, experts from all aspects of the industry, including OEMs, system integrators, end users, distributors, academics, and others can receive a free license to explore this next-generation automation system for themselves. 

Universal automation is a disruptive technology based on the IEC61499 standard for interoperability and portability that decouples hardware and software by addressing one of the industry’s largest challenges to innovation — single-vendor lock-in. By having the opportunity to explore this new technology before leveraging it for commercial projects, innovators can better understand how the platform can support their organizational goals and improve operational efficiency.

“Today’s industry is changing faster than ever before, requiring both new solutions that offer greater flexibility and higher productivity, and a skilled workforce familiar with those solutions able to implement them,” said Kaishi Zhang, Global Director, Product Management at Schneider Electric. “Through this program, we are fostering digital innovation and creativity in the next wave of the industrial automation workforce by providing access to the latest universal automation platform and tools to get them started, encouraging them to take the next step in driving the industry of the future forward.”

Universal Automation Discovery Packs are for non-commercial use, enabling innovators to experience the benefits of universal automation while testing the interoperability and portability of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert system with compatible 3rd party hardware. Available on both Microsoft- and Linux-based machines, the plug-and-produce automation software components are based on IEC61499, a key industry standard that defines high-level system design language for distributed Industrial Control Systems (ICS). Adoption of an IEC61499-based automation layer common across vendors has unlimited potential for modernization across industries.

The vendor-agnostic EcoStruxure Automation Expert — the world’s first universal automation solution — is an ideal platform for Industry 4.0 solutions, providing excellent reusability, scalability, and architectural flexibility. Through the implementation of a common distributed control runtime across hardware and software platforms, it represents a new approach to designing, building, operating, and maintaining industrial automation systems, offering a unique technology mix that defines a new category of integrated automation systems.

ABB Announces Many New Automation Projects

ABB keeps a flow of automation news through my inbox that I can’t keep up with. There are only a few companies maintaining this much publicity. A few of the larger industrial automation (and software) companies have almost completely closed the valve. I have six interesting items from ABB of a variety of process automation use cases.

  • process upgrade to a cement plant
  • high payload hoists in mining
  • Flow Control Mold electromagnetic stirring and braking technology for steel production
  • production control and process solutions for lithium plant
  • electromagnetic stirring for steel arc furnace project
  • digital transformation in a large sawmill

ABB upgrades process control systems and cement grinding units in UAE

ABB upgrades process control systems and cement grinding units in UAE for increased uptime and uniformity across multiple sites

•   ABB installs state-of-the-art distributed control system (DCS) automation platform at Star Super Cement cement grinding plants in UAE

•   Upgrade to central processing units brings uniformity across Star Cement clinkerization plant as well as Star Cement grinding plants in the Middle East to lower maintenance downtime

•   ABB has also installed the latest generation automation controllers for high availability of control applications at the Ultratech Cement subsidiaries

ABB has installed ABB Ability System 800xA to upgrade three grinding units at Star Super Cement in Dubai, UAE, and ensure optimized operations with the Star Cement clinkerization plant in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

The scope of work undertaken by ABB included the upgrade of all previously installed central processing units (CPUs) and controllers to the latest version of ABB Ability System 800xA. The project also involved the complete erection and installation for the new panels while keeping the field wiring intact. Minerals libraries were introduced to the system. Project panels were manufactured and delivered locally.

high payload hoists ensure safety and efficiency at major Australian mine

OZ Minerals will install a production hoist (winder) which can carry nearly 40,000kg of ore to the surface

•    The hoist system will have the highest available levels of safety through ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists, the first fully SIL 3 certified suite of solutions for hoists

•    Contract is part of a $400 million shaft expansion at the mining company’s Prominent Hill mine in South Australia

ABB has won a large order for its highest payload Koepe production hoist, associated infrastructure, and safety systems from Australian mining company OZ Minerals. The contract will help to ensure efficient processing performance and a long service life as part of an ongoing $400 million expansion at the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia.

The hoist, which will be designed and supplied by ABB, has a capacity of 39,400kg and the strongest drivetrain that ABB has ever installed in Australia. ABB specialists will also supervise installation and commissioning.

Installing the Wira shaft will increase the annual underground mining rate, extend the mine life, reduce operating costs, lower emissions intensity, and reduce overall operational risk, according to OZ Minerals.

optimize production for major steelmaker thyssenkrupp

ABB has been awarded a major contract by Primetals Technologies to help optimize production at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe’s (tkSE) Duisburg-Bruckhausen plant in Germany, using the unique and proprietary ABB Flow Control Mold electromagnetic stirring and braking technology for higher quality steel produced faster and at lower cost.

The construction of a casting rolling mill and the upgrade of an existing continuous casting plant is part of a wider project awarded to Primetals Technologies, a global leader in plant engineering for the metals industry. It is part of tkSE’s Strategy 20-30 which aims to optimize operations for the requirements of automotive customers seeking improved surfaces, thinner and high-performance steels to meet crash safety standards in the growing e-mobility market.

By using FC Mold G3 (generation 3), thyssenkrupp can prevent gas bubbles and impurities from becoming trapped in the solidifying steel as the technology will offer simultaneous stirring and braking from one fixed position on the caster. In continuous slab casting, conditions in the meniscus area of the solidifying steel are crucial to determining end-product quality and have a major impact on productivity and overall operating costs. Integrated with the caster, FC Mold uses electromagnetic fields to control meniscus flow speed and fluctuations. It enables improved process control and increased resource efficiency, requires very little maintenance and typically has a long lifespan.

zero emission lithium project in Europe

• Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Savannah Resources plc and ABB signals intent to work together to explore electrification, automation and digital solutions for the Barroso Lithium Project in Portugal

• ABB will provide technical expertise to outline production control and process solutions for lithium production in line with Savannah’s decarbonization strategy and aim of zero emission operations by 2030

• The project is the largest known resource of hardrock spodumene lithium in Europe and could be a significant source of carbon-neutral lithium concentrate to help meet growing electric vehicle (EV) battery demand

Under the early-stage agreement, ABB will apply its technical expertise to outline production control and process solutions for lithium concentrate production and integrated spodumene mining operations in line with Savannah’s target of zero emission operations by 2030.

Savannah is focused on responsible development of the Barroso Lithium Project by using 238 individual measures to eliminate or mitigate environmental impacts. These measures will be included in the Definitive Feasibility Study on the project, which Savannah is currently completing. This will also incorporate the actions from the current project decarbonization study which supports Savannah’s commitment to target a zero emission operation by 2030 or earlier. Savannah also places great emphasis on its social responsibilities and a comprehensive set of programmes have been designed to share benefits and opportunities with local communities.

charging, melting and electromagnetic stirring solution on a large electric arc furnace (EAF)

•    Record-breaking melting unit in operation at steelmaker Acciaieria Arvedi in Italy, with a furnace tapping size of 300 metric tons

•    Tenova’s Consteel EAF continuous scrap charging system is complemented by Consteerrer, an innovative ArcSave-based electromagnetic stirring technology jointly developed by ABB and Tenova for continuously charging EAF systems

•    Application of electromagnetic stirring results in 5 percent productivity increase and 3.6 percent reduction in electrical energy consumption

•    Additional improvements include increased flexibility in the operation of the furnace and in the use of the raw materials mix with significant improvement of the metallic charge yield

The record-breaking electric arc furnace has a 300-ton tapping size and utilizes a charge mix which include Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI). It was installed to meet the demand for increased output following the recent revamp of the continuous Endless Strip Production (Arvedi-ESP) casting and rolling mill line at the plant.

Swedish sawmill takes first steps to realize vision of digitally optimized operations

•      Sustainable timber products company Moelven will use the ABB Ability System 800xA distributed control system to find improved ways of running a sawmill

•      ABB will digitally connect a steam boiler for better energy usage and production processes at the new Valåsen mill in Karlskoga with start up planned in 2024

The ABB Ability System 800xA distributed control system (DCS) will be installed for the new mill to provide operators with wide visibility and precise control from a central command center to ensure that production is as resource efficient as possible, with reduced energy consumption and limited waste.

The first step is to ensure two steam boilers are integrated into the ABB Ability System 800xA for improved load sharing and optimized energy use. The entire saw line will be consolidated under a single control and information system, enabling better decisions by ensuring the right process information reaches operators at the right time.

The application area in a sawmill is new to both ABB and Moelven as the site is currently running with islands of automation, where each machine operates in its own space. The aim of the collaboration is to not only increase digitalization and result in higher levels of automation, but also realize a new standard in the industry’s operations for the long-term with interfaces between machines and modelling of the entire process flow.

Moelven already sources its materials from sustainable spruce and pine forests in Norway and Sweden, and has a vision of a connected, digital sawmill to create greater efficiencies in processing. It manufactures wood products for the home, lumbar for industry, glulam, building modules, flexible office solutions and wood chips for bioenergy.

Through the collaboration with Moelven there will be the potential for ABB to work with a number of Europe-based original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and technology innovators, ensuring the vision for the sawmill of the future is achieved successfully. ABB is committed to helping its customers reduce their emissions and preserve resources as part of its Sustainability Strategy 2030.

Emerson Moves to the Cloud and Registers Product with FieldComm Group

I’ve accumulated a couple of news items from Emerson. The most interesting tidbit lies in the standard company description found at the beginning of all corporate news releases. This one highlights Emerson as a software company, as in “Emerson, a global software, technology, and engineering leader.” I’ve written a post and recorded a podcast (which is popular, by the way) on the “software is eating the industrial world” topic. There is no income for media coming from software, but it’s an interesting direction for this market.

The two items include moving its SCADA SaaS platform to Microsoft Azure in the cloud and registering its AMS Device Manager with FDI.

Emerson Supports Sustainability with Improved Cloud-Hosted Industrial Control Platform

Emerson explains the benefits of moving to the cloud as improved scalability, data protection, and threat intelligence, not to mention sustainability as it moves its Zedi Cloud SCADA software-as-a-service to Microsoft Azure.

The more robust cloud host enables customers to securely scale their supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems quickly and easily to achieve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, better safeguard critical business assets, and empower users to adapt their operations to changing requirements while mitigating risks and operational costs.

Emerson’s Zedi Cloud SCADA platform uses advanced automation and software, including proven machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to build predictive models that lead to autonomous operations over time, helping support sustainability efforts in oil and gas, water/wastewater and other data-intensive industries. Critical data from those predictive models can then be stored in an operation’s data historian to more easily track and trend performance and emissions and demonstrate compliance to regulators.

The Zedi Cloud SCADA platform helps personnel manage advanced analytics in formats that present authorized end users with clear, easily understood data accessible in the cloud anytime from anywhere. This improved access to intuitive data enables easy remote monitoring of assets, helping users improve operational performance even in rugged, dangerous, or distant locations. Increased layers of cybersecurity and the more robust network afforded by the Azure platform enable customers to further protect data for advanced continuity of operations.

Emerson Improves Device and Process Visibility with FieldComm Group Registration

AMS Device Manager is the first software of its kind to be registered under the Field Device Integration standard, making it easier to monitor and optimize plant health.

Field devices collect and transmit important data that personnel use to improve plant health, performance, and reliability. FDI registration will reduce the need for plants to support two different technologies to integrate and maintain field devices. Full FDI registration is important to avoid having a patchwork of systems and devices that only support individual elements of FDI but still require extensive integration effort. Because manufacturers can pick and choose individual FDI features to support, some device management applications will likely not contain every feature a plant requires. Emerson worked side by side with FieldComm Group for nearly two years to enable AMS Device Manager to pass the group’s rigorous testing process for registration, which requires all features to be supported by the software. 

The newest release of AMS Device Manager will make it easier, more secure, and more cost effective to access device data. FDI integration technology eliminates the need for plants to support the two most common technologies for installing and configuring devices: Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Field Device Tool/Device Type Manager (FDT/DTM). Instead, all FDI devices support a single installation package, so organizations will no longer have to double up on time, training, and effort when installing field devices.

Open Process Automation Forum Discusses Progress

We’re just six weeks into the year and more events than usual have crowded my daily time—trips, funeral, swim meets, surgery for the wife’s broken arm. I’m behind. Thankfully I don’t put out a monthly magazine and all the peripheral (stuff) that goes with that. In order to divert my mind, I have been reading through (in order of course) the complete Nero Wolfe series from Rex Stout. If you have never been introduced to the genius private detective who settles his seventh-of-a-ton body into a custom desk chair and eats gourmet meals, you’ve missed a treat.

I did take an hour out yesterday morning, getting back to work, to listen in to the media update of the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Introduced at the ARC Forum in February 2017, this effort to forge a standard of standards for process automation interoperability has made progress.

The standards document is well along with six parts. The attempt is not to design a DCS but to harness standards such that interoperability is enhanced making life easier for owner/operators when necessary upgrades are specified.

Most impressive are the five owner/operator test beds authorized for completion in the next year. Companies working on these are ExxonMobil, Georgia-Pacific, BASF, Saudi Aramco/Petronas, and Dow Chemical. Note that these are not all only oil & gas.

Interoperability only works if it can be proved. The conformance working group paces with the standards working group to assure standards and ways to test for conformance develop hand-in-hand.

Not every DCS supplier was thrilled with this project at the beginning. Even if all are on board, I’m not sure how many are whole-heartedly behind it. Even so, this effort will move the entire industry forward toward the owner/operator goal of interoperable technology.

Manufacturing Colorado Green Chili

Did you know that green chili is a uniquely Colorado delicacy? I discovered that through a conversation with Colorado Green Chili founder and owner Gary Geiser. Colorado Green Chili began in the early 2000s at a 13-seat diner (now he has two) that featured his original formula for green chili….a southwestern delicacy that the rest of the U.S. isn’t as familiar with.

Geiser told me that someone from Whole Foods ate at his diner and told him that his Green Chili would be a hit at his store. Does he bottle it for sale? The answer was “not at the moment.”

But the restaurant entrepreneur decided to become a manufacturing entrepreneur, as well. Geiser investigated process control, batch processing, learned how to batch various sizes of product. He investigated co-packers and hired engineers to write control and MES software for the system. He purchased a 20,000 square-foot facility and equipment and was in business.

He went to the FDA and USDA to obtain all the necessary approvals, then began production. He produces product under his own name and also white labelled for others. He currently supplies Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Kroger, and more. He has sold online to all 50 US states and to 25 countries.

With over 900K jars sold, the green chili is made from all-natural Colorado green chilis, is gluten free, is vegan, is the first green chili to participate in the NON GMO Project and “tastes amazing”. Actually, I’ve gone through a jar of the “hot” that has a touch of habanero and the salsa. I’m working on a jar of the mild. I’ve mixed it with a few foods and like it over omelets and scrambled eggs. Geiser recommended slow cooking a pork shoulder with a jar of the chili. I haven’t tried that, yet, but it’s on the list.

Here is 25 MIN of live TV  just completed when the second restaurant reopened. Within this content you will see the jarred chili featured. Also, as you consider this note, we would love to send you chili samples to taste.