Security—the latest, high-tech 'layered look'

Tight physical- and cyber-security together with safety are not inimical to flexible and effective process-controls. The "layered look" of clothing appropriate to wintry, northern climes is a good metaphor, because one can add or subtract layers as the temperature (risk) changes. Control Engineering recently visited Honeywell Inc.


Process Control and Advanced Control

As energy costs rise inexorably over time, investments in energy efficiency have play a major role in global competitiveness. Some pundits don't see prices of U.S. automotive gasoline dropping below $2/gal again. It may well be a bellwether for energy pricing in general.

Geismar, LA —Tight physical- and cyber-security together with safety are not inimical to flexible and effective process-controls. The "layered look" of clothing appropriate to wintry, northern climes is a good metaphor, because one can add or subtract layers as the temperature (risk) changes. Control Engineering recently visited Honeywell Inc.'s Geismar chemical plant, which provided an in-depth review of one high-tech layered look: a state-of-the-art integration of security and process safety that is the fruit of Honeywell's $100 million annual R&D spending.


Geismar is one of Honeywell Specialty Materials' most important plants. It is the largest U.S. manufacturer of hydrofluoric acid and a principal producer of key, non-ozone-depleting refrigerants and Aclon resin (a clear vapor barrier for pills and capsules). Specialty Materials has made significant investment in plant capacity additions in recent years.


The Geismar plant recently hosted members of the U.S. Congress and Department of Homeland Security to showcase what can be done for chemical plant security. It may even set the standard for federal plant security regulations that may be promulgated before year-end 2006.


With an active "footprint" of 240 acres, the Geismar plant includes a dock that can accommodate ships with up to a 25,000-ton capacity. It allows the crushed fluorite (CaF 2 ) feedstock to be imported from around the world.


At the outset, Honeywell recognized two fundamental challenges:


  • Isolating its facilities from its lessee neighbors' plants; and

  • Integrating the security, safety, and process functions without losing functionality.


The company's approach to protecting the facility employs a comprehensive defense strategy that seamlessly integrates the physical, electronic, and cyber layers of security with building automation, security, and process control systems for real-time information sharing. Integration is the most effective and efficient way to address safety and security that enables faster, better incident (safety or security) responses, such as pre-emptive shutdown/safe-mode and the mustering of personnel in safe areas.


The $3.5-million, 16-month undertaking was completed in January 2005, and included Honeywell's investment of over $2.5 million and a $1.02-million Department of Homeland Security grant, (which added to project completion time requirements).


The combined efforts of Honeywell's aerospace, automation, and specialty materials groups took a pragmatic approach, using the latest technology, such as hand geometry biometrics, since workers' hands might be grimy, negating the effectiveness of fingerprint-based technology.


An example of the amalgamation of "rocket science" and pragmatism was the marriage of Honeywell's ballistic missile-tracking expertise with commercially available radar to provide continuous, automated threat-monitoring capability for all traffic approaching and passing by on the Mississippi River. It has user-defined rules that can adapt to time-of-day and day-of-the-week factors.


The security system has the same heritage as Honeywell's process control software. "Hooks" embedded in the two software elements, for example, allow much tighter integration between them. The security system also can be integrated with non-Honeywell products.


While, the majority of U.S. chemical plants are taking a wait-and-see attitude pending federal regulations on the topic, which may be promulgated later this year, Geismar is now the template for Honeywell's upgrade of its Tier-I and -II chemical plants' security/control systems. Honeywell also has sold several systems to Middle Eastern and U.S. petroleum and chemical companies.


Stay tuned, the company is outfitting the plant as its showcase for all the latest in automation technology. The kleig lights are expected to illuminate in early 2007.




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