Honeywell, a Fortune 100 software-industrial technology company, is going digital and transforming the way industries operate. In a recent interaction with Sudhir Chowdhary, Akshay Bellare, president, Honeywell India, talks about the firm’s transformation into a software industrial company and how it is moving towards more advanced offerings to increase the efficiency and productivity of processes . Excerpts:
What has been Honeywell’s approach towards Machine Learning for driving growth?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) based analytics solutions require aggregating and analysing data to train them to mimic real-world observed behaviours. For industrial solutions, it starts with a ‘historian’ that aggregates time-series and event data. This data is fed into an analytics engine that models the information using proprietary algorithms, combining data science and field operator expertise. The insights are presented to the end-user, who takes specific actions and records those actions. The application now ‘learns’ based on real-time actions. Over time, we start seeing a convergence, which ensures accurate decision-making at the operator level. We have incorporated AI and ML algorithms in our Honeywell Forge enterprise performance management applications.
What are the emerging trends in the Operational Technology (OT) industry?
Some of the key trends are:
OT is evolving with increasing complexity and data volumes doubling every 3-6 months. This requires a re-think on how information can be effectively used to improve performance, increase productivity and enhance decision making.
The complexity in OT further increases with disparate systems designed to solve specific issues (“point solutions”). Now, we need to get all these systems to seamlessly interact with each other to process/act on the data being captured/generated.
There is a realisation that redoing systems/applications to accommodate every new asset or a change in operating model is expensive and time consuming. Flexibility and scalability is the need of the hour.
Cybersecurity for OT is expected to become a key safety and security metric for many businesses in 2020 as digitisation, remote operations and the inter-connectivity of systems potentially open up new routes of access for cyberattacks.
How is Honeywell’s quantum technology different from efforts by IBM and Google?
Our quantum computing future is built on our technology heritage. Honeywell has traditionally excelled in ‘controls’ hardware solutions and technologies, with expertise in cryogenics, lasers, micro-fabrication and magnetics. These components are the essen-tial basis for a quantum computer based on trapped ion technology. This is a key differentiator between the Honeywell system and the superconducting devices being built by companies such as IBM and Google.
Our team of more than 120 scientists, engineers, and developers have been working not only to develop the components necessary for a quantum computer, but to launch the most powerful commercially available quantum computer. We see quantum computing as a ‘controls problem’, designed for ‘controls related challenges,’ and controls is our specialty. Our quantum computer has demonstrated a quantum volume twice that of the alternative commercial systems available today, and our roadmap outlines a trajectory to increase our quantum volume by an order of magnitude every year over the next five years.
Quantum computers will disrupt multiple businesses, solving previously unapproachable problems and creating valuable solutions across industries. Any business challenge that has multiple variables at its core is a target problem for a quantum computer to tackle.
Honeywell Quantum Solutions has the goal to solve today’s ‘classically impractical’ challenges and tomorrow’s ‘classically impossible’ computation problems. Our system, with fully connected qubits and leading operational fidelities has a number of differentiating features enabling more complex simulations within the space. For example, pharmaceutical companies could accelerate the discovery of new drugs, materials firms could discover new molecular structures, finance firms could develop new trading strategies, transportation firms could optimise logistics, and companies relying on the output of machine and deep learning could perform analyses that are impossible with classical computing of today.
With Covid-19 we are moving towards a safe, secure and connected future. How is Honeywell contributing to it?
Honeywell has deployed new software that enables process operations to be monitored or even executed from remote locations outside of the plant facilities. These remote options use the power of Honeywell Forge offerings to proactively detect issues and bring them to the attention of both the customer and Honeywell experts whether through intelligent wearables, video assistance training or access to on-call experts. Honeywell Forge is built on secure cloud technologies and comes with hardened cybersecurity and data privacy features.
In addition,Honeywell has innovated to extend the capabilities of its Smart and Safe City technology deployments. Our Command and Control Centres are being used as the nerve centre for operations to help contain spread of Covid-19 in specific cities. We have also developed and deployed city-specific dashboards, portals and citizen applications to engage with citizens.
Another interesting feature that we have developed is a “Lockdown Monitor” that passively counts the number of people and vehicles in CCTV camera feeds, and alerts authorities if it sees crowds.