Honeywell deployed RealWear HMT-1s and HMT-1Z1s running Microsoft Teams for RealWear.
The COVID-19 social distancing guidelines prevented the Honeywell Process Solutions team from performing onsite validations and testing of its customers’ newly implemented industrial equipment.
Honeywell deployed RealWear HMT-1s and HMT-1Z1s running Microsoft Teams for RealWear
One of its key divisions — Honeywell Process Solutions — designs, engineers and installs automation control systems to help customers improve their business, production and process efficiencies. These solutions can be found in chemical plants, pharmaceutical companies, pulp and paper producers, refineries and other industrial settings and environments.
A core component to Honeywell Process Solutions’ projects are acceptance tests, which require Honeywell engineers to visit customer sites to validate and approve the installations. For large implementations, it’s common for hundreds of global experts to attend acceptance tests in one facility.
In 2020, everything changed.
“As we went into COVID-19 lockdowns, we couldn’t get the engineers here anymore,” says Hank Wrenn, Vice President and General Manager of Americas Projects and Automation Solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions. “But we still had customers who needed us to run our tests on schedule.”
However, Honeywell stands by its slogan — We have been innovating for more than 100 years — and was determined to continue to do so again despite the pandemic shut downs.
To the Honeywell Process Solutions team, the travel restrictions and social distancing requirements weren’t isolated challenges to overcome.
The pandemic disruption was an opportunity to improve its efficiency and lower costs.
“We switched over to Microsoft Teams and started using RealWear head-mounted tablet devices, which allowed us to get everyone connected and continue our work,” says Wrenn. “With the use of Teams and RealWear, we don’t have to have everyone in the same location.”
A single onsite Honeywell employee wearing a RealWear device is able to share what they are seeing and engage with offsite expert colleagues through Microsoft Teams in real time. The voice-activated controls enable the wearer to use the various functions — including viewing documents on the highresolution micro-display, contacting coworkers on Teams, and more — without taking their hands or attention off of complicated machinery or equipment.
For those watching offsite from home or their office, they get a front-row view of exactly what the onsite worker is looking at, which allows them to give relevant expertise at the moment of need.
“Everyone else is witnessing, checking or signing off a document,” says Wrenn. “It didn’t matter if they were in South Korea or Germany, everyone is connected. If Teams and RealWear weren’t available, we would have extended tests by months and expanded costs, which would have drastically impacted our customers,” says Wrenn.
“We have maintained, in the Americas, every project that we had scheduled during the COVID crisis,” says Wrenn. While the Honeywell Process Solutions team successfully hurdled the pandemic disruptions, Wrenn is optimistic about using RealWear and Microsoft Teams as long-term solutions.
Eliminating travel and boarding expenses of multiple employees for the length of an acceptance test is a large cost saver. Depending on the scale of the project, this could mean reducing costs by hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
“Typically, half the people who travel to a facility only need to be there half the time,” says Wrenn. “By using Teams and RealWear wearable tablet devices, we can cut our travel costs in half and, at the same time, gain efficiency since our employees no longer have to wait around all day for a specific task. They can continue their daily work from home and join a Teams meeting when needed to witness the test.”
While the cost savings are immense, the overall testing process has also been streamlined. “On one project, we saved more than two weeks of testing time and got the system up and running ahead of schedule,” says Wrenn. “That wouldn’t have been possible without the use of Teams and RealWear wearables.”
“[The onsite worker] can actually follow the instructions used to guide them,” adds Vinod Rajamanickam, Honeywell ICSS Lead Engineer. “This is a game changer. It reduces the time it takes to get the solutions.”
Customers weren’t the only ones blown away with the improved acceptance testing process. Employees have embraced virtual factory acceptance and are enjoying improved work-life balance.
“[Employee] feedback has been really positive,” says Wrenn. “Embracing virtual platforms has improved quality of life for employees because they don’t have to travel, and they can stay close to their families.”
Honeywell Process Solutions is looking forward to continuing to use RealWear and Teams in acceptance testing. “We have set a new standard,” says Wrenn. “We’ve proven that we can do things in a better way, and we’re looking forward to the next steps and how we can take this to the next level.