Gas Production Management: The Next Big Thing

Honeywell's innovative new system is the future of energy plant control technology.

Jul 11, 2014 at 3:06PM

The pursuit of more efficient and effective control systems is big in today's energy sector. Gas plants need systems that maximize production potential. Honeywell (NYSE:HON) Process Solutions just revolutionized this concept, creating the holy grail of energy plant control systems, the Experion PKS Orion, in hopes of taking control of the soon-to-be $15 trillion industry Automation and Controls. Last week, Qatar Fuel Additives Company, known as QAFAC, announced it will have Honeywell supply and its large Mesaieed Plant with the new integrated control and safety system. 

This new system can increase the production of methanol and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), in addition to substantially lessening operating costs, subsequently increasing efficiency. 

Nasser Al Kuwari, the QAFAC general manager noted that the Experion PKS Orion system, "will help us meet the growing demand for methanol, MTBE, and clean fuels efficiently." QAFAC actually plans to become one of the top five global producers of butane and methanol derivatives by 2020, and it is a glowing testimony to the innovation of Honeywell that the gas producer is confident its lofty goal is possible to achieve. 

A giant leap in technology
Honeywell's solution combines its Experion PKS control system with its Safety Manager and  XLS Fire Detection technologies to improve automation, cyber-security, and operation effectiveness. In other words, it combines the jobs that several separate systems would need to do into one system. It's like the phone being able to access the Internet. You see, the Experion PKS Orion maintains a more sustainable, agile, and safe automation platform, significantly improving gas production efficiency for plants, giving it an extremely sizable edge over the competitors.

A brief comparison to the competitor GE's (NYSE:GE) Mark* VLE Integrated Control System reveals just how impressive the Honeywell's new system is. The GE VLE provides a bit of increased efficiency, similar to Honeywell's, but falls behind in numerous other ways.

Firstly, Honeywell's new solution is the first system to use blade server technology, which increases virtualization, reducing the amount of hardware needed to run the plant. GE's VLE, unfortunately, does not. Honeywell's solution also includes its own Safety Manager software, which  increases reliability and process up-time. Again, GE's system does not. Honeywell's unique design even utilizes Universal Channel Technology, allowing for a reduced footprint, as well as minimal hardware. And once again, GE's VLE system does not.

According to Honeywell, its system can reduce installation costs by 33%, and asset configuration time by 80%, staggering amounts in the realm of energy production. 

A leap in returns as well?
The Honeywell Automation and Controls Segment, the umbrella of Honeywell Process Systems, contributes 42% of the total revenue, making it the company's largest division. Last year the segment enjoyed a 7% increase in sales, also the largest among Honeywell's segments. The demand for the segment is also on the rise. In fact, the global Automation and Controls Industry is forecasted to reach $15 trillion in worth by 2025. Luckily, Honeywell is already a large force in the industry, but even more promising, the Experion PKS Orion could help the company capitalize further on this rapidly growing market, and it would not be unreasonable to see another 6% to 9% increase in the segment's revenue each year until then.

Honeywell currently expects double-digit EPS growth in the next five years. It's EPS grew 11% in 2013, and is expected to grow at least 10% in 2014. Imagine what dominating a $15 trillion industry in the next 10 years would do. 

It can definitely be acknowledged that this innovation could buoy long-term revenue and share price alike. Honeywell has a P/E ratio of 18.89, meaning that for every one dollar of earnings, investors are willing to pay $18.89. It is slightly lower than GE's ratio of 21.88, as well as the industry average of 21.1, but still valued pretty highly. However, with the recent pursuits of the integration system, which should be finished by the end of the second quarter of this year, Honeywell's long-term potential is undervalued.

The system created is the future of energy plant management, so the demand, and sales for Honeywell Process Solutions could skyrocket, especially if a rival is unable to develop an integrated control and safety system able to match the Experion PKS Orion. Thus, in a fast growing industry, the simple truth is this: Honeywell has the next big thing, and GE does not, so it would be foolish to miss out.


Drew Stern has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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