Workforce and Productivity Discussed At Safety Conference

Workforce and Productivity Discussed At Safety Conference

Rockwell Machine Safety Maturity ModelI’m wrapping up my coverage of the EHS Today Safety Leadership Conference held last week in Greenville, SC. I covered the Technology Track sponsored by Rockwell Automation.

Steve Ludwig, safety program manager at Rockwell Automation, presented on the impact of the evolving workforce on safety.

Workforce changes

“We are facing a shortage of skilled workforce, and it is a global issue,” began Ludwig. “The average age of skilled worker is 56,  and this demographic is prone not to delay retirement. Add to this the fact that birth rates have declined for the last 35 years, so we do not have the usual situation of increasing population to fuel economic growth.

There are now more inexperienced workers who are more at risk. This is not just a situation for your plant, but also for the plants of all your suppliers. Businesses face supply chain interruption, reputational / brand risk. Businesses face not only an aging workforce that may be prone to injury, but also a younger, less experience workforce that tend to have more frequent acute injuries.

When Ludwig asked attendees, “How do we improve with a changing workforce?” most responded that they were proactively going out to schools to recruit and evangelize manufacturing. They were also assuming much responsibility for helping train young people.

Connected enterprise for safety

Jeff Winter of system integrator Grantek discussed connecting the enterprise for safety. He noted a problem that continues to exist is that dashboards rely on manual data collection and input.

There are three “Eras” of safety technology–initially just preventing access; then detecting access (something that increased both safety and productivity); today controlling access (integrated safety into machine, about as productive as you can get).

“EHS must get a chair at the table when data collection and analysis are being discussed in the plant or company,” he concluded. Winter continued with this advice, “Ask for data on actions such as emergency stops, intrusions, shut downs.”

Beyond lockout, tagout

Turning to electrical safety specifically, Jimi Michalscheck business development manager for safety looked at going beyond Lockout Tagout (LOTO). His point was how to balance safety with production. He posited a system of engineered safety control, which he called a new way of addressing LOTO.

“If you haven’t designed an alternative, then you must use LOTO (OSHA). To prevent unexpected restart of the equipment during service from causing harm to employees.”

Engineering safe alternatives. Think of your machine as simple components. For example, a case packer. Notorious for frequent need for getting into it, so also for citations. Using Alternative Protective Measure (APM), design the machine in components. Task specific, area specific, documented (know that the service area is protected for the reach of the worker). APM developed must provide the same or greater level of protection as LOTO in order to comply with CFR1910.147.

Digital Transformation and Industrial Internet of Things

Digital Transformation and Industrial Internet of Things

VimalK_Blue BGHere is the official wrap of the recent Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas symposium. It was the 40th anniversary celebrated with the theme “40 Years of Innovation.” Officially “more than 1,200 people” attended the event.

I have written a couple of times during the week here and here. This information comes from a press release issued last week. Along with some executive quotes is a note that Honeywell Process Solutions has been developing and implementing technologies for the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) for many years.

During the event, Honeywell announced a collaboration with Intel Security McAfee which will expand its industrial cyber security capabilities to help defend customers from the increasing threat of cyber attacks.

“The process manufacturing industries are facing a critical time in history due to a convergence of factors such as security threats, a shrinking workforce and lower oil prices, among others,” said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). “These factors are driving a greater need for our technologies and services because they’re designed to help companies conduct operations more efficiently, and with less risk.”

The conference revolved around three core technology themes directly impacting companies’ abilities to successfully adapt to changing market conditions: digital transformation and smart operations, system evolution and risk reduction, and smart instrumentation with smart integration. Throughout the week, Honeywell executives, technology experts and customers explained how these core areas can turn technology buzzwords like Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) into practical applications.

“HPS has been leveraging the concepts and technologies behind the Industrial IoT as part of the vision that we have been evolving towards for several years,” Bruce Calder, HPS chief technology officer told general session attendees. “In order to run a reliable operation that continues to improve performance and business results, you will need to install smarter field devices, achieve more connectivity, collect more data and find ways to use that data to run a smarter operation.”

Calder also gave attendees a first look at HPS’ first native app for mobile devices and tablets that connects to different sources and applications across the company’s portfolio to create a more-intuitive mobile experience for plant workers. Mobility is part of the initiative to introduce a suite of apps that, along with new cloud functionalities, will enhance existing solutions to deliver better business efficiencies.

The conference agenda included a wide range of presentations from Honeywell customers ExxonMobil, Chevron, Reliance, DuPont, Great River Energy, Syngenta, Genentech, Valero and others. These presentations – covering everything from wireless applications and cost-effective control system migrations, to alarm management and energy conservation – highlighted how real-world manufacturers have used Honeywell technology to streamline their businesses by generating and analyzing the most-meaningful data from their operations.

In addition to these presentations, attendees received a first-hand look at some of Honeywell’s newest technologies designed to change the way their enterprises work, generate the right data to inform decisions, and reduce overall risks. Highlighted technologies included:

  • UniSim Competency Suite – the newest addition to the UniSim family of training technology, which now includes 3D virtual environment capabilities to provide realistic experiences.
  • DynAMo Alarm and Operations Suite – software that leverages more than 20 years of alarm management experience in the process industries to help users reduce overall alarm count by as much as 80 percent, identify maintenance issues and increase visibility of critical alarms that require urgent attention.
  • Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security Risk Manager – the first digital dashboard designed to proactively monitor, measure and manage cyber security risk for process control systems.
  • SmartLine Level Transmitter – the newest addition to Honeywell’s line of modular, smart field instrumentation designed to integrate with control systems to provide benefits such as extended diagnostics, maintenance status displays, transmitter messaging and more.
  • The EC 350 PTZ Gas Volume Corrector – the first member of a new line of high-performance electronic volume correctors (EVCs) that more accurately measure natural gas delivered to industrial customers, helping them meet government and industrial standards.


Digital Transformation and Industrial Internet of Things

Honeywell User Group 2015

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.

Workforce and Productivity Discussed At Safety Conference

Four Automation Trends Reflected At Rockwell Automation TechED

Some old issues were addressed in new ways by Rockwell people at Rockwell Automation TechED in San Diego Monday (June 1).

  • Workforce
  • IT/OT Convergence (or not)
  • Connected Enterprise
  • Mobility (or the breakdown of silos—finally)


We continue to talk about the coming Armageddon of baby boomer retirements and domain expertise walking out the door. This conversation has been ongoing for more than 10 years. We’re still talking.
One proposal here at Rockwell is to increase use of the technology that Millennial generation understands. That suite of technologies and devices are integral to Rockwell’s Connected Enterprise vision.

Another solution comes through the training/workforce development business. That group has begun to provide training and education beyond traditional (to Rockwell) electrical, motor control, and automation. It offers basic math, leadership, mechanical crafts, and more.

IT/OT Convergence

Once again training comes to the front. Partnering with Cisco, Rockwell has developed a specialized class beyond the Cisco CCNA certification—CCNAI. This training goes beyond traditional enterprise networking to include networking crucial for manufacturing and production.

The target market for this training is also non-traditional. It includes those presently working in enterprise IT. The hope is that this training will bring together information technology and operations technology (IT/OT) people and finally move the needle on this sticky organizational problem.

Connected Enterprise

My meeting with a representative of this initiative is set for later this morning. However, I’ve already had many conversations and attended a “Super Session” on the topic.

Connected Enterprise at this point reflects the Internet of Things and is the vision pointing to smart manufacturing. According to an Accenture study about 84% CxO executives see potential revenue streams from IoT, but only about 6% doing something about it

The Rockwell mantra for this conference is Intelligent Assets Controlled by Intelligent Software.


Mobility for Rockwell goes far beyond just adding a few visualization tools to smart phones and tablets. It actually reflects the breaking of silos within the company. I’ve seen this developing for several years—especially with the current executive management team.

So, mobility becomes a cross-division effort so that all the various product groups come together so that there is a Rockwell app, not a drives app, a motion app, a control app, and so on.

Mobility also leads to the next age of automation—management by exception. Steve Gillmor of the Gillmor Gang, a popular tech conversation (podcast), talks often about the power of notifications. Notification leads to management by exception. That is where Rockwell is heading.

People, Connections, Technology—Schneider Automation Conference

People, Connections, Technology—Schneider Automation Conference

Freberger 0415Day 2, or my first full day in Dallas at the 2015 Schneider Electric Global Automation conference, was packed with sessions, meetings, and dinner.

Keynotes at a user conference are always a mixed bag. Usually there is a well-known author or leader to give a motivational message. Usually the CEO gives a state-of-the-company address. And then there are product announcements.

Gary Freberger, who leads the automation business, gave just a short update mostly dwelling on the market size of the business that resulted from combining the Foxboro/Triconex process automation business with the Modicon business that already existed within Schneider. Schneider Electric now has far more market clout than before. My take is that this could have a subtle change in industry dynamics in the future.

Connection and Behavior Change

Koulopoulos 0415Tom Koulopoulos, chairman and founder of Delphi Group, a Boston-based think tank, gave the “author/leader/motivational” keynote. He was also promoting his new book, The Gen Z Effect. Like many technologist speakers I’ve heard, he watches his kids and extrapolates to the entire generation.

However, he left us with two very important thoughts. First, it’s not about the technology. It’s about changing behaviors. And those of us who have implemented automation in our lives know that unless it changes the behaviors of the operators, it will not work.

The second thought is that beyond human behavior, it’s about connections. He posits that connections have brought us to this point over the last 300 years and connections will take us forward.

Then he left us with a little flow chart of what is happening:

Real-time analytics–>Predictive analytics–>Business Intelligence

This really does reflect where we are moving with Industrial Internet of Things and contemporary manufacturing strategy.

Solve World Hunger

Martin 0415Peter Martin, Schneider vice president (and one of several visionaries), always presents well. This year his presentation was better than usual. There were essentially two main points—let’s go back to our roots as control engineers while expanding the scope of what we’re controlling, and let’s recognize the value of control engineers and be aware of what we can contribute to the world.

He began by discussing an early science project which had way too large of a scope. The teach kept saying, “Peter, don’t try to solve world hunger.”

Well…fast forward to today. Martin also left us with a little flow chart of sorts:

Use our control expertise to solve problems of energy generation and transmission –>

Half-a-million children die each year due to tainted water; desalination is an energy problem; solve energy problem leads to solving water problem –>

If we can build a PGA golf course in Dubai through solving the water problem, we can build gardens in Africa. So we could solve world hunger –>

We can also solve environment by solving energy. In India, a petrochemical plant grew a mango forest to absorb carbons –>

Solve environment problem leads to solving world health.

I have known Peter for more than 10 years. One of his consistent themes is that engineers are undervalued—and they often under value themselves.

By golly, we could solve world hunger. We could miss the opportunity of a lifetime by thinking too narrowly.

Our day jobs

Automation is the platform upon which we build control. We need to do a few things.

Plants organize with an asset topology. Automation uses a technological topology. We need to reduce the complexity of the automation topology and make it align better with the plant topology. But the installed base is an anchor holding us back. “So, migration becomes really exciting.”

By enabling personalized automation, we no longer eliminate people. We begin to use people to their fullest extent. Forget the lights-out industry talk.

“Have we pushed the limits of control to the furthest extent? We have a long way to go. Discipline of control engineering is just beginning. We must improve efficiency in a safe manner. Business has shifted from highly transactional to real-time. And historically we have separated plant floor from business. Business results get to operations too late to react. We have moved to a real-time control problem because the time constraints of business have shrunk. We need real-time business control as well as real-time process control.”

“I’ve been told that the age of the control engineer is over; No, the age of the control engineer is just beginning. We’ve just changed what we’re controlling. Look at maintenance, asset performance, reliability, it’s all changing in real-time. If we measure in real time and apply real-time control, then we can manage it. Efficiency, reliability, profitability, security, safety, environment. And forget calling people ‘labor,’ but instead call them ‘production managers’ for that is what they really are. Let’s just enable them.”

Martin concluded, “Challenge us to create value-driven innovation across all domains. Keep our eye on our value.”

Catching Up With ABB Automation and Power World

Catching Up With ABB Automation and Power World

Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB CEO

Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB CEO

I was not able to attend ABB’s Automation and Power World this year. Too many places to go at the same time.

However, someone I trust, Mehul Shah of LNS Research, was there and wrote his observations on the LNS blog.

Mehul focuses on software and linked it to the Internet of Things. “The conference also featured a prime focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), as a panel was presented on stage, containing key event sponsor Microsoft, ABB, and an ABB customer. The trio provided insight and examples into how the IoT trend is impacting the industry.”
Highlighting ABB’s solution in the IoT space, Spiesshofer discussed the following key areas of focus
• Robotics
• Intelligent devices
• Control systems
• Advanced communication infrastructure
• Enterprise software
• Analytics solutions

“A notable fact that was highlighted at conference was that—to my surprise—more than 50% of what ABB’s currently offers is software related. ABB had made a few major acquisition over the last decade to build its software offering. The most impactful was the acquisition of Ventyx for $1 billion in 2010. This gave ABB a major boost in asset, operations, energy, and workforce management solutions in some of the asset intensive industries. ABB has also made some other acquisitions such as Insert Key Solutions and Mincom to build its Enterprise Asset Management software offerings. It seems clear the company understands the importance of its software business to remain competitive, and has also developed a separate Enterprise Software group that houses some of these acquisitions.”

Interesting that the investments were in software applications. Several years ago a CEO told me that software was important to his company—and that there was software in most of the company’s hardware products. That was correct—but my point was software business, not technology. ABB seems to have kept emphasis on software business even while Spiesshofer has been divesting some of the acquisitions made under previous CEO Joe Hogan.

Shah’s Takeaways

• It was impressive to see the effort that ABB has invested to bring its acquisitions under one brand.
• ABB has taken a first step in building a technology roadmap by bringing some of the software offerings together as part of the Enterprise Software group. LNS sees this as a big step in the right direction strategically, and should prove of great benefit to current ABB customers as well as prospects.
• However, ABB currently has important software products that remain outside of its Enterprise Software group and it remains to be seen if these solutions will receive the required attention, especially when considering the breadth of ABB’s portfolio. Two examples of this are the company’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) offering, and the aforementioned Decathlon for Data Centers.
• ABB has a full-fledged MES offering with some good customers currently leveraging this MES across discrete, process, and batch industries.
• ABB might have some ground to cover in MES compared to some of its closest competitors in this space. Companies like GE, Siemens, Schneider Electric and Rockwell Automation have been heavily focused on the software business with many announcing reorganizations to increase resources allocated to software over the past several years and.
• Another area we would like to hear from ABB is around their offerings in IoT. While there were number of products that were categorized as IoT solution, ABB will need a holistic offering and vision around how their industrial clients can leverage these solutions to drive value.
• To answer the question, yes—ABB can compete effectively in the software business. But there is still some grounds to cover. ABB has had a lot of critical parts of the software business for quite a while and has been slower than many of its competitors in pulling it all together.

Gary’s Take

I agree with Mehul for the most part. I knew ABB had an MES offering, and I’ve interviewed Marc Leroux many times over the years. But it always seemed a little under the covers. The same with the Ventyx acquisition. It was easy to forget about it as it didn’t seem to get the promotion it deserved.

ABB is such a diverse conglomerate that sometimes it’s hard to know what it focuses on. I always followed the automation—primarily process automation. Several years ago, I think at Hannover but maybe SPS in Nuremberg, ABB executives explained the factory automation offering and the added emphasis the company was placing on it. But there are so many things and so few promotional dollars.

Also a few years ago, ABB decided to add its Power users to its Automation user group conference—hence Automation and Power World. However, the first two of those featured much more power and much less automation. It looks as if the company is striking a balance at the conference. But the Power division is still a laggard in performance.

ABB is a strong company, but it has much work to do in order to reach peak performance.