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HAIL will continue to accelerate India’s move towards Industry 4.0 with best-in-class tech offerings: Ashish Gaikwad, Honeywell Automation

In an exclusive interaction with Express Computer, Ashish Gaikwad, MD, Honeywell Automation India Ltd (HAIL) says that Honeywell has deployed software solutions that enable safe and efficient process operations to be monitored and executed remotely. He also talks about HAIL’s ‘Healthy Buildings’ offerings, a technology that has been engineered in India and rolled out globally. It comprises two elements: the Honeywell Healthy Buildings Air Quality package and the Honeywell Healthy Buildings Safety and Security package.

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Could you please shed light on the role of emerging technologies in Honeywell Automation India Ltd? What is the major impact of the lockdown imposed due to Covid-19 on HAIL? What efforts were made to cope with the challenges thrown by the lockdown in the first initial three months i.e. from March to May 2020?

As an industry leader, Honeywell Automation India Limited (HAIL) remains at the forefront of developing and providing integrated automation and software solutions. We serve continuous and batch process industries and commercial buildings. We have a very wide and deep portfolio of products, software applications, and services. With this portfolio we help our customers to keep their facilities and operations safe and reliable, make them more efficient and environmentally friendly, help improve their quality, and thus positively impact their profitability.

The countrywide lockdown triggered an unprecedented move towards working remotely, which brought with it a unique set of challenges that very few had anticipated. Becoming resilient, agile, and quick to adapt became key to ensuring business continuity. The first three months witnessed a tectonic shift in the way businesses and employees operated. We have customers who are geographically spread out far and wide – both in India as well as globally. We moved fast to ensure support to them, and deployed technology and business processes to help them in remote engineering, testing, monitoring, commissioning, and maintenance. Our ‘Remote-everything’ approach immensely helped us and our customers to keep the mission critical operations going.

The strained environment accelerated technological adoption by companies across all sectors. With remote working becoming a new normal and companies implementing social distancing measures onsite, technology made business continuity a possibility during the nationwide lockdown.

What kind of software solutions does Honeywell offer to its clients to improve decision-making, boost productivity, enhance efficiency and reduce manual paperwork?

As a company at the forefront of Industry 4.0, Honeywell has deployed software solutions that enable safe and efficient process operations to be monitored and executed remotely. Our customers use the power of Honeywell Forge offerings that help the companies to make each person ‘an expert’ and each day as ‘the best-production day’. We achieve this by making our software uniquely intelligent to proactively analyse real-time data, detect issues, and bring the insights to the people’s attention. We also help them with our intelligent wearables, video assistance training, and access to our on-call experts.

Using data gathered from processes and assets, remote solutions enable operations personnel – regardless of where customers are in the world – to manage daily production and maintenance functions and drive continuous improvement across multiple sites. They also enable personnel to track production targets, operate plant processes, monitor asset health and even create scenarios to determine the effect of operational changes prior to implementation. Remote everything encompasses many aspects such as:

+ Remote monitoring: to ensure complete visibility of the essential manufacturing processes

+ Remote engineering: to ensure project work continuity

+ Remote factory acceptance testing: to provide full testing and, therefore, confidence to customers before systems are shipped to customer facilities,

+ Remote maintenance services: to ensure remote delivery of critical maintenance services

How did Honeywell Automation India tailor its software solutions for the Indian market requirements during the lockdown period?

As India entered a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020 with strict social distancing guidelines, state governments started converting command and control centres set up under 100 Smart Cities program into war rooms to fight the crisis. Recognising the unique challenges posed, Honeywell rapidly innovated to extend the capabilities of the existing system and support customer needs. We developed and deployed a Lockdown Monitoring System across smart cities. The system periodically scans camera feeds, and uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to count people and vehicles. This solution ensures the effectiveness of lockdown, using AI-based algorithms to report areas with a higher number of people and vehicles, and initiate patrolling or pre-defined standard operating procedures. It provides citywide activity level dashboards with trends and heatmaps on GIS maps, enabling agencies in law enforcement, public health and city administration to take effective measures.

Another technology that has been engineered in India and rolled out globally is our Healthy Buildings offerings. This comprises two elements: the Honeywell Healthy Buildings Air Quality package and the Honeywell Healthy Buildings Safety and Security package.

The Air Quality package monitors, manages, and controls key parameters to create a healthier built environment while still managing energy efficiency. The package can:

+ Help building owners implement the latest ASHRAE and other local guidelines;

+ Manage pressurisation, ventilation, temperature and humidity;

+ Gauge environmental and occupancy parameters;

+ Provide real-time insights on contaminant risk, alerts to change HEPA filters, cleaning and occupant behaviour; and

+ Control and optimize UV sterilization, air filtration, and air composition.

With the increase in digital activities, cyber threats have also gone up on industrial control systems and critical infrastructure systems. What is your overall experience of dealing with issues related to threat landscape to industrial companies in the recent months?

A Honeywell survey of business leaders in India conducted last year showed that industrial cybersecurity breaches were damaging organisations, impacting their bottom lines and denting their reputation. Nearly half of the enterprises had their operations suspended for a period of time after they suffered the breach. According to a recent report by PWC India, as the Covid-19 outbreak reached India, the number of cyberattacks on Indian organisations doubled in March 2020 from January 2020. Today, a majority of cyber-attacks are focused on exploitation of vulnerable services and obtaining easy access to remote technology. We at Honeywell supported industrial companies with our Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity suite – which is a vendor-agnostic, operational technology (OT) cybersecurity platform that provides threat and risk visibility and helps strengthen cybersecurity defences in a control system environment.

As cyberattack costs can run into millions of dollars, the software delivers a simple yet scalable threat management option for companies in any stage of cybersecurity maturity. From inventorying assets on a network; to moving and using operations data; to strengthening endpoint and network security; to improving cybersecurity compliance, Honeywell Forge functions as a grow-as-you-go software solution to better address these cybersecurity pain points in operational technology (OT) and industrial internet of things (IIoT) environments.

We have developed a three-pronged strategy to help companies identify and lower the risk/eliminate dangerous security weaknesses.

+ The first is to collaborate with the industry ecosystem — from other technology providers and integrators to end users and government agencies — to build awareness, provide education, share best practices, and accelerate the development and adoption of cybersecurity.

+ The second is through creating and acquiring new technologies. In mid-2017 we acquired cybersecurity and remote monitoring company Nextnine that had around 6,200 clients in the oil and gas, chemical, utility, manufacturing, and mining sectors. The acquisition also helped us to increase the cybersecurity quotient within our organisation. We have bundled Nextnine’s flagship  system into our existing cybersecurity offerings as part of the Honeywell Connected Plant initiative.

+ The third is by creating industrial cybersecurity centres of excellence (CoE). These CoEs are strategically located. We opened the first cybersecurity centre in Atlanta, USA. This was followed by a security centre in Dubai serving customers in the Middle East and Europe. And the third is based out of Singapore that will cover customers in Asia. All these COEs are designed to help defend industrial manufacturers against evolving security threats.

How do you see the future of HAIL in the next three to four years in terms of introduction of new offerings and solutions?  

While in the pre‐Covid times, automation was viewed as a means to innovate, reduce cost and gain a competitive edge, now the focus has shifted to survival and damage limitation. To mitigate global supply chain risks for future crises, manufacturers will consider bolstering their in‐house capabilities instead of out‐sourcing manufacturing to other countries. The need to automate, especially in jobs that have high human interaction and the ones that are hazardous, has gained prominence.

To tackle the situation and help industries sustain momentum, HAIL looked at the faster adoption of technologies across industries. While the degree of adoption may vary depending on the industry and the readiness of the companies to make huge investments now, today’s environment has certainly acted as a catalyst in the transition to automation, especially in building resilience among businesses for future disruptions.

As India moves to add more smart cities, drive a gas‐based economy, and build digital infrastructure for the future, we see tremendous business opportunities. HAIL will continue to help drive digitalisation and accelerate India’s move towards Industry 4.0 with our best-in-class technology offerings. We are already supporting some of the largest manufacturing plants, utilities, critical infrastructure, commercial and residential establishments in the country. We will continue to deliver solutions that make India and the world – safer, greener, more productive and efficient.

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