Manufacturers across several industries currently face physical and technology barriers that limit the ability to effectively move and manage operations data throughout plant floor environments. As a result, they lack accurate real-time process information sufficient to control the processes. Industrial processes that physically or chemically transform materials are large users of heat and energy. The lack of precise, descriptive, real-time information results in sub-optimal or non-controlled processes and higher-than-necessary energy consumption.
"This project is a bold step toward capturing the potential in emerging wireless and sensing technologies to serve the needs of manufacturers across several industries," said Dan Sheflin, Vice president and Chief Technology Officer for Honeywell's Automation and Control Solutions (ACS) business. "Honeywell is delighted to work with the DOE and other industrial players to drive practical, low-cost systems that will produce a significant change in the way manufacturers operate and make U.S. industry more efficient and competitive worldwide."
The project's potential return is significant because of the total amount of energy that U.S. industries consume. The DOE and Honeywell believe that solutions comprising sensing, wireless and control technologies can drive energy savings (up to 256 trillion Btu per year), lessen environmental impacts and increase yields.
Six business units from Honeywell's ACS group teamed with the Honeywell ACS Labs and nearly 20 other industrial team members to establish a cost-shared project that aims to significantly improve process control and automation capabilities specific to industrial applications.
Honeywell will work with project team members in developing, and applying sensing and wireless technologies to energy-intensive industrial operations. By improving processing and control methods, DOE project partners believe manufacturers can improve efficiencies around measuring, analyzing and controlling gas and liquid process streams that frequently are inefficient and costly.
"The ultimate objective is to help industry optimize the use of energy, space and other resources," said Mr. Sheflin. "Wireless and sensing technologies, including advances in installing and managing sensors and other control devices, can help manufacturers save time and money, utilize timely, more robust data, and be more aware of their processes."
Eight key industries use significant amounts of heat and energy to physically and chemically transform raw materials ultimately used to produce finished goods. Classified by the DOE as Industries of the Future, these companies - in aluminum, chemicals, forest products, glass, metal casting, mining, petroleum and steel - offer a tremendous opportunity for improving efficiencies that will contribute to reducing industry's energy consumption. Collectively, Industries of the Future supply 90% of the materials vital to the U.S. economy, produce $1 trillion in annual shipments, directly employ more than three million people, and indirectly provide an additional 12 million jobs at all skill levels.
The project is also important because it can forge strong, innovation-enabling partnerships between the DOE and U.S. industry that can increase industry competitiveness. The project brings together industrial leaders who will share, with the Federal government, the expense of finding new solutions. This co-investment allows the DOE to offer a project that can increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies by decreasing the cost of innovation and accelerating the adoption of new technologies.