Driving Change with Technology

  • August 24, 2015
  • Feature

Bill Lydon’s Automation Perspective

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Rahul Chaturvedi, Senior Vice President and CIO of the Hydrocarbons Division at Reliance Industries Ltd. gave a thought provoking presentation at the 2015 Honeywell User Group (HUG) conference. In the presentation, Chaturvedi discussed the need to apply technology to drive change and support business growth.

Aggressive Growth Plan

Reliance is a 35-year-old, $62-billion firm that started in textile milling and integrated vertically over the years into polyester polymer fibers, petrochemicals, refining, oil & gas, and retail. Refining and petrochemicals are the company’s mainstay businesses, with the two divisions contributing almost 90% of the company’s revenue. The company has an aggressive growth plan to reach $150 billion in annual revenues in the next five years and become a global Fortune 50 and most-admired company. The company’s aggressive growth plans include the commercial launch of telecom services through its Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (R-Jio) unit deploying 4G (fourth-generation) services, using LTE (long-term evolution) technology, in the 800 megahertz (MHz), 1800MHz and 2300MHz bands through an integrated ecosystem.

Driving Change

The company’s chairman advocates the need for transformational business change. He says the way of doing things that made the company successful in the past will not take them to the next level of growth. Chaturvedi described how the company’s chairman is taking a non-traditional approach to drive change. The traditional route to business transformation is looking at people, processes, and then the systems will follow to support them. Reliance’s chairman turned that process upside down by driving technology into the organization.  He believes it is the fastest way to bring about organizational change. The chairman also believes the use of automation as a tool will drive business transformation and give the company a competitive advantage. Automation is being used to eliminate manual procedures as much as possible and ultimately humans will only be required to do things such as turn a valve when necessary. Having leadership that understands the importance of using technology to improve operations and be more competitive is extremely valuable.

Reference Architecture

The company has unified the operations of more than 500 legacy DCS process control systems in 120 plants across 6 sites. They created a reference architecture above the DCS process control systems layer and replaced hundreds of applications including planning systems, plant historian, alarming systems, and production accounting with 35 new application modules that meet all functions required to create a cohesive architecture. The reduction in the number of unique applications reduces ongoing software maintenance and configuration control. This was accomplished without making changes to the existing DCS process control systems. The only need was to have them communicate with higher level systems. Chaturvedi did note that gaining open communications for information from the DCS process control systems is a “knotty issue since DCS vendors typically do not support efficient, open communications.”

The Honeywell Intuition Executive software is a key component throughout Reliance for employees to get information from these systems in the format and views that are meaningful for their needs. Various groups in the organization can now get information in the context they would like to use it, based on their functional role. Chaturvedi noted that gaining acceptance from users became easier by identifying their pain points and showing how this new systems approach is a way to solve them.

This application at Reliance is impressive for a number of reasons. They used sound engineering methods to create the reference architecture and define 35 applications to replace hundreds of other applications. By creating a cohesive system without changing or replacing existing DCS, Reliance was able to achieve a high return on investment.

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