Process management: Honeywell tells users “we are more than a DCS company”

By Sidney Hill, Jr., executive editor July 2, 2008

Honeywell turned its annual user conference into a platform to demonstrate that its solutions do more than merely automate production processes. A series of products unveiled at the mid-June event support Honeywell’s contention that it is now in the business of helping process manufacturers improve business performance.

“We are more than a DCS [distributed control system] company,” Jack Bolick, president of Honeywell Process Solutions , told conference attendees. “We are expanding our product portfolio, and we now get a significant amount of revenue from services.”

Honeywell made more than a half-dozen new product announcements during the conference,


OneWireless is an architecture that supports the use of wireless sensors in industrial networks. Honeywell has developed a set of wireless sensors that can be used for numerous functions, from corrosion monitoring to tracking both workers and physical assets as they move around the plant. Harsh Chitale, VP, strategy and global marketing with Honeywell Process Solutions, said the newly released OneWireless equipment gives manufacturers more freedom to deploy wireless technology because it is compatible with emerging industry standards.

Chitale was particularly enthusiastic about the equipment’s capability with the ISA 100.11a standard. Though it has not been officially released, Honeywell argues this standard will allow manufacturers to install larger, more robust industrial wireless networks than a competing standard known as Wireless HART.

Emerson Process Management , a major competitor of Honeywell in the industrial automation and controls space, is the primary backer of the Wireless HART standard.

“Manufacturers have been asking for a secure, reliable multi-function wireless network that can handle the thousands of devices they use within their plants,” Chitale said. “Until now, the only way to do that was with proprietary systems. “The ISA 100.11a standard will allow OneWireless users to achieve this vision using a standards-based network.”

Chitale said enhancements to the UniSim process modeling and simulation application will make process operators more productive by allowing manufacturers to create virtual models of production processes before bringing them online. In addition to working out bugs before the processes go live, operators can be trained on the processes beforehand as well.

Other product announcements made at the Honeywell user conference included:

•a related to plant mishaps and examine how specific pieces of equipment were functioning in the moments leading up to the incident; and
•another without depending on intermediate devices such as PLCs.

In keeping with its theme of improving business performance, numerous presentations at the conference highlighted scenarios in which these new products could be used to prevent potential crises in a plant.