Executive Interview - Norm Gilsdorf of Honeywell Process Solutions

  • August 28, 2011
  • Feature
August 2011
By Bill Lydon
I had a discussion with Norm Gilsdorf, President of Honeywell Process Solutions at the 2011 Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium June 12-16, 2011 JW Marriott Phoenix Arizona on a few topics.
Organizational Changes
Honeywell Process Solutions recently announced organizational changes at the company creating five groups in addition to their regional operation:
  • Project & Automation Solutions - Focused on delivering Greenfield and Brownfield projects.
  • Advanced Solutions - Focused software solutions for safety, reliability, and efficiency.
  • Field Products - Focused on instruments and efficient delivery of products and projects through distributors and system integrators.
  • Engineered Field Solutions – Focused on delivery of Enraf and RMG solutions.
  • Lifecycle Solutions - Focused on aftermarket services.
The new mantra at Honeywell Process Solutions is they are a, “Business Transformation cCompany.” Gilsdorf explained the goal is to improve business efficiencies and profitability for customers. Gilsdorf emphasized, “Honeywell has a lot of great products coming out, we bring all those together as solutions and we think our solutions are at the point we can really help to transform peoples’ organizations.”
I asked him if the drive behind the organizational changes is only based on the focus of being a business transformation company.  Gilsdorf explained, “It is a little of that and how we can better execute and deliver to our customers.” He described how they operate out of 20 regions around the world which has great advantages of being close to the customer. The new organization moves functional resources into worldwide groups which means they can be flexibly deployed and globally based on project needs, providing greater flexibility.   These groups will also develop common methods and standards to lower cost.
Asset Management
Gilsdorf commented that asset management continues to grow in importance and Honeywell continues to work closely with IBM’s Maximo asset management software. He noted that during the conference Honeywell launched the new Asset Manager R400 designed to simplify integration with Honeywell and third-party applications including IBM’s Maximo® Asset Management software. 
PLC Competition
We discussed Honeywell’s growing system integrator program and how PLC/PAC companies are pursing process applications to do entire plant automation, discrete to process, with a single architecture.   In this discussion Gilsdorf was not definitive and answered, “I wanna walk before I run.”
In our discussion on wireless, Honeywell is actively engaged in deploying wireless solutions.   They are focused on how to use wireless to do things differently - “change the paradigm.” 
Skills Crisis
While discussing the growing need for engineers in the automation industry, Gilsdorf talked about his commitment to hiring 50-60 new engineers a year for U.S. and Asia, regardless of the economy. He also discussed that we need to make this industry attractive by showcasing technology such as high tech control rooms and simulation software. Honeywell has been providing UniSim software to schools. Amazingly, they found even the top chemical engineering schools were still using “old school” methods to calculate things like heat exchangers, pump, and re-boilers using hand calculations! Honeywell has also been providing small DCS and control systems for school labs.
Energy, Smart Grid & Sustainability
I suggested that collaboration between various Honeywell groups would seem to make sense in the energy arena. Gilsdorf emphasized they are working together more but there have not been many opportunities to collaborate due to the way projects are done. He does not see much interest and noted they have not gotten “traction yet” to do something significant on the process side of energy.
Gilsdorf contrasted developed vs. emerging economies.   In Europe and United State, there is a lot of consciousness on energy, but companies are putting their capital investment into other activities.   We discussed guaranteed savings programs and Gilsdorf has proposed these types of approaches without success in their markets. In developing markets where there is a scarcity of energy, they are very interested in building energy optimization into projects.
Gilsdorf added that immediate energy savings can be accomplished in many plants without large capital investment.   “We find and believe that with smarter plant operation, without a lot of investment, you can better manage energy. He cited examples or running columns, heaters, and other processes smarter to save energy.
Thoughts & Observations
Honeywell has been evolving with initiatives in products and using systems integrators in a studied, deliberate way.
The organizational changes are in step with the idea of being more consultative, helping customers transform their businesses to be more effective.
A couple of years ago the company mantra was, “One Honeywell,” described as the idea that Honeywell has a wide range of products and services from various divisions that can benefit customers.  This does not seem to be emphasized today but is evident in some initiatives. Physical industrial security is the best example.
Norm Gilsdorf is a knowledgeable professional that understands the industry. We need more leaders of this type in automation…

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