Honeywell aims to simplify connected technologies to leverage digitalisation across the globe
By Srinath Srinivasan
Honeywell in India operates with the same vigour as it does in global markets. It has a network of engineering centres in India in Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Gurgaon and Madurai. Here, technologies such as remote monitoring, IoT, deep analytics and more recently, monitoring buildings for Covid-19 infections are built for both India and global markets.
“Today, we have roughly 13,000 employees; it is one of the largest footprints from an employee perspective outside of the USA. And most importantly, about 5,500 of them are engineers and technologists,” says Akshay Bellare, president, Honeywell India.
Honeywell has five strategic business units in India. These include aerospace, performance materials and process technologies, building technologies, safety and productivity solutions including warehousing technologies and lastly, Honeywell connected enterprise. “Honeywell connected enterprise consists largely of software experts who are delivering software solutions to all of the industries from India. We have been developing a lot of offerings that enable remote operations,” says Bellare. For instance, during the lockdown, upgradation of process control systems for Honeywell’s customers took place remotely.
Traditionally, a few engineers would be sent to customers’ locations for a day or two to do the upgradation. According to Bellare, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation world over.
Another example of the work coming out from Indian engineering centres is developing healthy buildings using digital technologies to monitor and ensure safety of occupants. During the lockdown, Honeywell developed an air quality package based on the healthy buildings concept, that basically manages ventilation, temperature, humidity, air pressure, environmental and occupancy parameters in a building, to ensure that the building is safe for occupants.
“To make sure that we monitor people coming in, we also developed mask detection, social distancing and space occupancy monitoring technologies,” says Bellare.
Similarly, solutions built for logistics and shipping industries are made in India by Indian engineers. On the aerospace side, Honeywell develops some of the technologically advanced cockpits and their systems, with Indian engineers playing a major role in their design.
Moving a legacy industrial company into the digital age also involves partnerships and engaging with a number of communities. “We do have a few instances of engagement with startups in Bengaluru. We monitor the ecosystem ourselves and select them based on where we need their expertise,” says Bellare. Unlike other industrial behemoths, Honeywell doesn’t have an open platform for developers and small companies to get on and build solutions. However, the company is working with Microsoft in a partnership so that their applications can be hosted on Microsoft’s platform. “Due to this, others can add to those applications on Microsoft’s platform,” he adds.
From its US headquarters, Honeywell has been making news about commercialising quantum computing in the near future. The race has already begun in this space with Google and IBM making their propositions not very long ago. Given the developments however, the work has not yet come to India and Indian engineers of Honeywell.
“The quantum computing team is largely in the US. We don’t have one locally in India. As the product technology is being developed, we are looking forward to use cases that will drive this development,” says Bellare. For example, in the case of pharmaceutical industry, companies look to improve the efficiency of drug discovery and drug design, which can be enabled greatly via quantum computing. In finance, there is a scope to develop better algorithms and to improve portfolio management. Similarly in chemical and telecom industries.
“We have a few customers who have signed up to utilise this capability we have in additive computing. Our core competency is in control technology and we will leverage it using quantum computing in future across our markets,” he adds.