Monday, 29 September 2014 05:13

Great LEAP forward for Honeywell users

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Software defined everything is all the rage in the IT industry. Now Honeywell is applying the concept to process automation.

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), the giant company process control division that supplies monitoring and control systems to facilities like mining sites and oil refineries, has developed a project planning and delivery methodology it calls LEAP (Lean Execution of Automation Projects (LEAP).

LEAP has been the star attraction at this year’s Honeywell Users Group meetings around the world, including this week’s Asia Pacific event on the Gold Coast.

“Lean execution already entails removing waste, including redundant tasks and rework,” says HPS’s Tony Hains, a local LEAP specialist. “We are constantly looking at ways of speeding up projects while at the same time reducing risk.

“LEAP takes this a step further by removing the traditional dependencies that used to force project flows to be sequential in nature, drastically improving the overall project schedule and keeping automation systems off the critical path. It’s about disconnecting the functional and physical aspects of the project.

“That breaks down task dependencies by using standardised designs, and enabling engineering to be done over Honeywell’s cloud from anywhere in the world.”

Hains says that while the automation processes may be only a very small proportion of the total cost of a project, a delay of just a few weeks can cost an enormous amount. “LEAP can result in 30% capital savings on the total installed cost of a project, as its benefits go beyond the automation scope across the entire project.”

Hains lists these as including:

  • Reduced project schedule risk
  • Predictable construction costs
  • More efficient use of capital expenditure (CapEx)
  • Earlier production dates.

LEAP comprises three key technologies:

Universal I/O: Honeywell has introduced universal I/O cabinets and interfaces to eliminate waste and redundancy. One I/O device can now handles all types of signal, including a mix of digital and analogue. This not only reduces the cost of custom engineering, but also lowers documentation and testing requirements and reduces defect opportunities by 60-70%. Honeywell says the savings can impact tens of millions of dollars in hardware and engineering outside of the automation scope of supply.

Virtualisation: allows standardised reference designs for servers and workstations to be built for users, reducing the design effort. It also reduces space, power, cooling and weight, eliminating the associated costs.

Users can procure servers and workstations at a later point in the project cycle and benefit from the latest hardware. New virtual machines can also be added without requiring additional hardware, allowing changes to be accommodated without impacting the hardware design.

HPS uses off the shelf servers from Dell and IBM, which is ruggedises for industrial use, and has VMware as its virtualisation partner,

Cloud Engineering: Honeywell’s virtualised engineering environment allows engineering to happen in the cloud. The architecture is replicated in the virtual environment (instead of the traditional laptops), where engineers, owners, operators and subject matter experts all have access to it from wherever they sit in the world – securely.

Hains says this assures that interactions are obvious and testing performed immediately, and problems solved early, in real time without having to fly people all over the world. Honeywell has two dedicated data centres in the US, in Texas and Delaware, and is building two more for global coverage, in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Pune in India.

“LEAP is a true paradigm shift in the way automation projects are implemented. It is revolutionising project execution.”

Graeme Philipson attended the Honeywell Users Group Conference as a guest of HPS.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson sadly passed away in Jan 2021 and a much valued senior associate editor at iTWire. He was one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is the author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’He was in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism. Graeme will be sadly missed by the iTWire Family, Readers, Customers and PR firms.

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