Pushing for a Shift From Automation to OptimizationWed, 01/25/2012 - 15:23
Honeywell is looking to its technology implementation in other countries as a model for the way that it hopes to participate with Pemex. “For example, in the particular case of Cantarell, we are looking to establish not only an automation business, but also to create solutions that give Pemex the opportunity to optimize production and increase the oil recovery factor at the field. We are looking at Honeywell’s projects with Shell as an example of the way that we can help an operator maximize recovery from a mature, shallow-water field,” says Andrés Rivero Torres, Sales Director of Honeywell Mexico. “At this point, it is too early to specify exactly which technologies will be implemented by Honeywell at Cantarell, but we need solutions that can guarantee the integrity of the data gathered, and will run in real-time. One of Pemex’s greatest problems at Cantarell is that decisions are taken up to three weeks after the data is captured at the field. We want to implement a system that will ensure that data transfers smoothly and quickly from measurement elements to control rooms, so that decision-makers have access to information in real-time and can optimize processes to maximize production. This is something we have implemented for Shell in the past, and we would like to use this experience to help Pemex address its challenges.”
Convincing companies to move from automation to optimization, and getting them to allocate resources for this kind of project can take a long time, Rivero Torres says. “Unfortunately, due to Pemex’s acquisition process, and the politics and bureaucracy surrounding the company, we have only managed to develop isolated solutions for the company, which do not give them the full benefits of an integrated system. They are somewhat cautious about leaping wholeheartedly into optimization projects, perhaps because they have been let down by promises in the past. But in order to get the most out of our systems, complete integration is required. Our position in the market today is to sell concrete results, not just automation components.”
One of the biggest challenges for an automation company today is working around the fact that EPC companies generally avoid spending on outlays such as comprehensive automation solutions in order to win in a cost-driven bidding process, instead following the ‘minimum compliance’ specifications for automation that have been laid out in a project tender. Honeywell’s strategy to tackle this quandary is to work on improving integration after a project has been constructed by working from an installed base with the minimum margin and conditions. “This is a way that we can demonstrate to the customer, by working shoulder-to-shoulder, that we can generate benefits. Honeywell can demonstrate that the best investment for recovering outlays is through the facility’s automation solution if used in the right way. Based on that, we normally address some key points depending on the business drivers of each kind of site or end-user.”
Training of current and future personnel operating a Honeywell automated facility plays a central role in optimizing their impact on the client’s operations. Rivero Torres explains that the company has created a number of training solutions. “We do sometimes use traditional training techniques, but we often find that the people we spend time training never actually participate in the use of the technology or tools in their daily working life. In order to be effective, we need to diagnose the real needs of a company based on their operating procedures. We need to be involved in the customer’s business in order to really understand it.”
Rivero Torres goes on to explain that training is a holistic process, which starts in the construction phase of a project and goes all the way to training people to use the systems once the facility is up and running. One key technology the company uses for training is simulators, which do not just train personnel to use the system, but helps them improve the operator’s skills. In a simulator, cause and effect can be speeded up so that an operator can quickly see the results of taking different decisions.
“The key business drivers and key value opportunities for the customer offered by integrated automation and optimization systems are improvements in safety, human capital, effciency, decision making, and economic value. Taking these five value opportunities together you can really integrate and grow beyond the initial vision of the project,” says Rivero Torres.