Data analysis: a key requirement for IIoT

Industrie 4.0 data analytics: A proliferation of data analysis solutions are designed to help industry benefit from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), explained Suzanne Gill, editor-in-chief for Control Engineering Europe, from the 27th Honeywell User Group EMEA event in Madrid.

By Suzanne Gill March 13, 2016

The dramatic change in fortunes of the oil and gas sector in the past few years has had a wide-ranging impact across many industry sectors, resulting in an increasing requirement for engineers to show a good return on any technology investment. This has led many to consider doing things differently, with automated solutions becoming more relevant and much easier to justify.

At the annual Honeywell User Group (HUG), which was held in Madrid in November 2015, Honeywell placed a heavy emphasis on data analysis solutions. "Knowledge is the theme of this HUG event because our customers run some of the most complex industrial operations in the world, and they require better knowledge to improve process safety, reliability, security, and sustainability," said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). He said the influx of new engineers replacing those now reaching retirement age do not have the same wealth of experience relating to the often aging control technology still in use at many process plants; more intuitive control solutions are required to help inform decisions about process efficiency improvements.

Technology change

"The pace of technology change is much faster today," continued Kapur. "Systems traditionally would have become obsolete every 5 to 10 years. However, the underlying operating system technology used today is changing much more rapidly so there is a need to update systems more regularly."

There is also increasing interest in cyber security issues and the IIoT. "At this point the IIoT is throwing up more questions than answers," said Kapur. "Customers will not be throwing away their existing systems to implement IIoT, so we need to help them unleash the power that they already have. I believe that control systems will become the heart of the IIoT, which will rely on process data for operation, maintenance, and optimization—and that data comes from the control system."

Kapur said the IIoT will give engineers the ability to host applications in a more centralized environment. With different source applications becoming centralized in the cloud, it will no longer be necessary to maintain the same application multiple times, and upgrades will be much easier to achieve. It will also allow less skilled engineers to manage applications. "I believe that the IIoT will allow for greater efficiencies and increased uptime. It offers nothing new, just a way of doing things differently," he said.

In the cloud

According to Kapur, Honeywell is enabling customers to leverage the benefits of cloud-based applications and this, he says, is helping to lower engineering costs and optimize scheduling during the front-end engineering design (FEED) stage, where time savings of up to four months have been achieved along with up to 30% reductions in engineering costs. "We have seen an increase in projects executed in the cloud environment-almost 2,000 projects since April 2015," said Kapur.

Bruce Calder, chief technology officer for Honeywell Process solutions, reiterated the point that the IIoT concept is nothing new to the process industry. "We have been doing it for decades," he said. "We already have the capacity to make use of this information to benefit plant performance. However, ever more connected devices and systems are generating vast amounts of data, and the next big change will be how this data is managed."

One-third of process and manufacturing industry executives from around the world surveyed by Honeywell said that they already are using data analytics to improve business performance. Two-thirds said that they are using data analytics capability to monitor assets to drive a proactive maintenance program. Two-thirds also said that they were investing heavily in IT infrastructure to collect more data from their facilities or remote assets.

"There is a huge interest in data," continued Calder. "However, alone it has no value. It needs to be translated into actionable information. Honeywell can now offer many solutions that help aggregate data, enabling it to be used to monitor applications and identify potential safety and performance issues."

Cyber security solutions

Honeywell also is investing heavily in cyber security solutions. The next cyber security offering from the company will be a risk manager which uses the unified design language that runs across products. It will provide an intuitive dashboard solution that offers at-a-glance cyber security information as well as provide the necessary information and work practices to correct plant deficiencies.

Key solutions demonstrated at the HUG event included process solution suites that provide pre-engineered solutions with embedded UOP knowledge. Benefits are said to include early validation of UOP process automation designs and reduced project risk, leading to earlier start-up of operations.

Another new offering was an alarm and operations management software family, said to offer advanced capabilities for alarm system compliance, monitoring, and rationalization. Expanded process performance analysis software was also on display, demonstrating how it can provide real-time digital intelligence by collecting process and event data and use asset-centric analytics and visualization technology to turn plant data into actionable information.

Remote collaboration app

A new mobile solution designed to connect remote plant managers, supervisors, and engineering staff to real-time plant performance is also in the spotlight. Explaining further, Calder said: "The new product is an IOS native app that delivers process notification to users. It gives access to historical events and trends, providing collaboration capabilities for engineers wherever they may be. It can connect to many different data sources across the Honeywell portfolio to offer notification on a variety of events." [See the Digital Edition Exclusive article: Technology developments using IIoT, real-time data to help workers in the field.]

Platform independence

The growing demand for products that easily interconnect and share data in meaningful and effective ways has resulted in increased interest in platform-independent architectures for data exchange, and the Platform Industrie 4.0 trade organization has stated that OPC UA is the only standard relevant for the reference architecture model for Industry 4.0, which has resulted in a huge increase in interest and activity for OPC UA solutions.

Commenting on this subject Kapur said: "Today we communicate between the plant and the control system through different communication mechanisms. There is no one standard. There is a need for a common language that allows devices and equipment to talk to the control system. OPC UA is a key standard enabling this communication. Honeywell is a key provider of OPC UA and is working with different organizations to find out how the standard can become a scalable application right down to the sensor level for data aggregation."

Expanding on this subject, Calder said: "OPC UA is the leading contender to be the device interface protocol for the language of the IIoT. To enable this connected world Honeywell also has invested heavily in the instrumentation business-from field devices to gas measurement control, we are developing products with leading accuracy that can openly and securely communicate."

Suzanne Gill is editor-in-chief of Control Engineering Europe. Edited by Joy Chang, digital project manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

More advice

Key concepts

  • Data analysis was widely discussed at the Honeywell User Group.
  • Cloud-based applications can save up to four months in engineering design and lower engineering costs up to 30%.
  • Data analysis helps monitor applications and identify potential safety and performance issues.

Consider this

Are you keeping up with data analytic opportunities to improve processes?

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Original content can be found at Oil and Gas Engineering.

Author Bio: Suzanne Gill is editor, Control Engineering Europe.