2019 CEO Insights: Andrew Hird

Honeywell Process Solutions

Friday, 01 February, 2019

2019 CEO Insights: Andrew Hird

What are the three biggest challenges facing your industry in 2019?

One of the key challenges we see for the process industries is retaining knowledge in the face of a rapidly changing workforce. The average person entering the workforce in 2019 will change careers seven times, expects to progress to new roles every two years, and is attracted to companies where the latest technologies are leveraged. Combine this with the large numbers exiting the workforce through retirement and we see a significant challenge ahead. The race is on to capture the wealth of knowledge that the retiring workforce will take with them, while finding novel ways to rapidly attract and impart this knowledge to an incoming workforce with very different needs.

The process industries have made significant progress implementing cybersecurity strategies at the IT layer of their organisations, but we still see several challenges in doing so on the process control network (PCN) layer. One such example is the dependence on USB devices, which remain the principal vehicle for updating and maintaining PCN configurations. Researchers from Honeywell recently analysed USB usage and behavioural data from 50 production sites across four continents that utilise Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange technology. Of the threats blocked by this technology, 26% had the potential to cause major disruptions to industrial control systems. This included several well-known threats such as Stuxnet, Mirai, TRITON and WannaCry.

The other largest challenge that we see for the process industries in 2019 is how to improve operational sustainability in a highly competitive landscape.

What strategies are being implemented by your industry to improve sustainability?

In the process industries, it was once considered a nice-to-have to be able to predict undesirable process conditions and equipment failures before they occurred, but in today’s highly competitive landscape this thinking has changed. To improve sustainability, the process industries require predictability to operate not only at desired capacity, but at optimal efficiency for every possible second that a plant is running. Many of our customers are now implementing strategies to better connect their assets, people and processes to improve the sustainability of their operations and make every day their best day of production. Although the strategies differ across organisations, the common enabler is the IIoT. While an IIoT-enabled plant may use a combination of sensors, automation systems and cloud technologies integrated with current systems and analytics, they all aim to increase intelligence. Whether this is realised through a predictive asset performance management system or the use of intelligent wearables for increased workforce competency and productivity is not necessarily important. What is important is that our customers can leverage IIoT to transform their work processes from manual and reactive, to automatic and proactive.

What is your industry doing to attract, upskill and retain talent?

The incoming workforce has very different needs than those who are nearing retirement, especially when it comes to the use of technology. We see several of our customers in the process industries seeking to understand how best to leverage technology to attract, upskill and retain talent. One such area where we are working to address these challenges is by using intelligent wearable technology to increase workforce competency and productivity. By leveraging how people best retain knowledge — doing not reading — our customers are using Honeywell Skills Insight competency tools that include augmented and virtual reality to train their workforce on critical tasks in the field with dramatic results. On the productivity front, Honeywell Skills Insight productivity tools bring knowledge and expertise to field operators in the moment by integrating control room and field workflows via intelligent wearables and a suite of productivity apps, so that field operations are performed with speed and precision.

How is your industry preparing for technology developments such as artificial intelligence?

While we have seen early adopters in the process industries take the dive into IIoT and realise true value, we are now seeing mainstream adoption taking place. Not in the future, but now, our customers are using powerful cloud networks to collect, aggregate and model data for accurate prediction of asset degradations and failures, and put contingencies in place to limit the impact on their organisation using artificial intelligence. This approach is fundamental to improving process reliability and increasing operating margins by delivering real-time, intelligent and actionable insight to end users. The true value of the IIoT can only be fully realised with a holistic view of one’s organisation, and although it may take time for some to become a truly data-driven organisation, this evolution is happening and there are already companies reaping the benefits.

Andrew Hird is currently the Sales Director for Pacific and South East Asia for Honeywell Process Solutions, and has been involved in the process industries for 21 years holding engineering, sales, marketing sales management and general management positions. He holds engineering and science bachelor degrees from Monash University and a Masters of Chemical Engineering.

Image: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Theerapong

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