Honeywell Turbine Control System

Hello all,
I was curious if anyone has used Honeywell Turbine Controls and migrated from Mark IV to Honeywell. We are in process of evaluating this path because are plant DCS is all Honeywell. The choice is between Mark VIE or Honeywell any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and have a great day.
Frame5Guy, I can't directly answer your question as I have not seen a migration from GE controls to Honeywell. I have seen migrations from GE to Ovation, and GE to other PLC brands.
My comments are somewhat jaded. I have seen the behind the scenes things that go on from a migration away from GE controls, and they are not exactly good. A certain vendor will say YES to any question you ask. Most of the time this migration away from GE is based on cost, or someone in the organization hates GE. I do understand and appreciate the "Common Platform" concept for training/spare parts etc. I also understand the "Open Concept" for logic. Such great keywords that get thrown around, almost like watching HGTV.

Things I like about GE. They are the OEM and they are best positioned to have the most people that should understand the system, not saying they have enough people or the best, but they don't rely on retired or EX GE engineers like most of the Non-OEM vendors. Staying with OEM controls should afford you support in the future if enhancements become available. The MKVIe hardware has matured and has a decent reliability record.

Things I don't like about GE. They still suck at understanding what the customer wants IMHO. In my experience if you migrate from MKIV to MKVIe they will not just translate your existing code into the MKVIe. They will supply you with new code that will most likely have lots of new enhancements included, some good, some maybe not desired. The salesmen typically have no idea how the logic works, and what you will get. Hardware cost is high. Tech support is not the greatest. Field and application engineers run the gambit from great, to not so great.

Whatever you do, and whoever you use, I would suggest being very clear on what you like about the current system, and what you don't like. Make very clear what you want when the project is complete. Hire an owners rep who is knowledgeable about the system you plan to install and get them involved early. If you do migrate away from GE to another vendor make sure they understand your current logic. Make sure they will be responsible for any misapplication of logic that can or will cause damage to the turbine if controls do not operate properly. If you stick with GE make your expectations very clear for how logic should operate. Whoever you choose demand a full in person FAT that simulates logic operation and graphics validation. I have seen a 25mw Fr5 CTG generate 52mw for a short time before tripping on high exhaust temperature due to a logic/hardware issue.
Good luck on your project however you proceed. The MKIV was a good system, but finding support and parts is getting harder all the time. If the system gave you 30 years of life I would say it did pretty well.
MIKEVI seems to have a good grasp of the situation. Read his post three times over.

You can check out the link below for Honeywell's public marketing on Turbomachinery Control (click on the Documentation tab)

Only 10 documents since 2012? 10 docs seems somewhat sparse (limited) to me. Everyone is going to have a pretty graphic of a turbine, so that count for much to me. How much turbine control expertise do they bring to party?

If it were me, I'd want a list of 5-10 Experion users' contact information for those who have an Experion system ON THE SAME TYPE OF EQUIPMENT that you have. Not something close, but the same kind. Then and I'd be on the phone with those users asking about their experience. (I suggested 5-10 referrals because I've found that less than half of referral contacts can actually be contacted: people move on, change jobs, whatever)

Given that you already have Honeywell DCS on site, the sales team should be able to come up with comparable users. If they can't, I'd take that absence of referrals as a thumbs-down.

I know Honeywell has a good reputation in Oil & Gas, but I'm suspicious that Honeywell has limited experience in turbine control which you should be concerned about, for lots reasons cited by MIKEVI.

MIKEVI has struck the nail firmly on the head--and driven it fully home! Just about ANY PAC/PLC/DCS (Programmable Action Controller; Programmable Logic Controller; DCS) can be made to control a GE-design heavy duty gas turbine--especially one with conventional (non-DLN) combustors. Will it be pretty and efficient? Will the replacement and commissioning be smooth and relatively trouble-free? What will the drawings/schematics you receive of how the existing I/O is connected to the new control system look like, and will they be useful? Lastly, what will happen if your employer decides in the near future to go with DLN combustion system (from GE)? (I can GUARANTEE GE WILL NOT program your relatively new control system to provide DLN functionality--that's a foregone conclusion...!)

Now, what happens if you opt for the Mark VIe? UNLIKE Honeywell, who will pretty much "duplicate" what is running in the Mark IV, GE's process is almost like starting from a clean slate. The requisition engineer answers a bunch of questions (they might or might not know the answers to!) and then when finished a computer spits out application code (which is what sequencing is called for the Mark VIe). And that application code may or may not be very similar to what's in the Mark IV--it most likely is not, since it will have "the latest and greatest software" to bring the unit(s) at your site up to current standards as if you purchased a new turbine-generator. This mostly means TILs (Technical Information Letters) and PSBs (Produce Service Bulletins) are included--as MIKEVI says, just don't ask what changed. Because GE can't tell you that. Because they didn't start with the Mark IV code and add the latest and greatest stuff. That means the requisition engineer would have to go through the Mark IV sequencing and the Mark VIe application code produced by the computer to try to find all the differences--and there's not time built in to the requisition process to do that. And, many of the requisition engineers just don't know how to do that (because that's not how they were trained and that's not how they get measured).

Neither does the field service person who will be doing the commissioning get trained to identify the differences; most don't know how to read Mark IV sequencing, and aren't that good at reading Mark VIe application code, either.

So, how do you find out about new code/code changes? When they cause problems during commissioning, or afterwards (when the commissioning person is off site!).

For example, GE won't tell you that their Safety Engineers have determined that the gas control valves (SRV and GCV) need to be "tested" to ensure they are not leaking--NOR that the testing adds to the start-up or shutdown times. Which can affect operation. Since the gas valves are the same gas valves (about 30 years old!), which probably haven't been refurbished recently, or during the controls upgrade, and they are probably decades old, they probably do leak enough to cause the gas valve test(s) to fail. Which will cause the start-up to be aborted. Meaning you may miss a chance to get on-line and generate some big revenue.

And what happens when this happens? GE will say, "It's NOT the Mark VIe!" and that's about all they will say, and technically, they will be right--it's the valve(s). You will say, "It worked just fine before you put the Mark VIe in there!" and technically you will be correct--because the change which precipitated the problem was upgrading to the Mark VIe. The Mark IV didn't test the valves, so you didn't know the extend of the leakage. And, what happens? Nothing. Finger-pointing. And yelling.

You should have been prepared for this--but if you had been told the gas valves should be tested, and inspected and refurbished if necessary, that would have added to the cost and complexity of the upgrade--and you might have opted for a less expensive solution. (And, the salespeople don't have a clue--and you're dealing with the salespeople during the decision process, not engineers.)

Is this the only issue which might come up? Hardly. If there are any problems with other I/O or I/O wiring wiring or interconnecting wiring, that can be a whole new set of problems--and finger-pointing. And most field service personnel performing the commissioning just don't know how to troubleshoot and resolve these kinds of problems. Nor do the know how to properly do loop-checks in an efficient and timely manner. So they just fester, and leave a bad taste in everybody's mouth.

With the Mark IV-to-Mark VIe upgrade, GE will say, "It's not necessary to do loop-checks." And, while that may be true (I don't personally subscribe to that train of thought for several reasons) if there are I/O problems (switches that don't work, and/or wiring issues)--they won't be found until later, and now is the time to make sure everything is working correctly with a new turbine control system.

As MIKEVI also says, it's completely understandable why you would want to use common control system hardware and software throughout the plant--makes perfect sense. BUT, as MIKEVI also says, most non-OEM control system suppliers use ex-GE personnel, and sometimes that works well and sometimes it doesn't. And, unless you have confidence Honeywell can do the Mark* controls AND you ask for references and check those references, and ask around in the GE turbine community about other's experiences with Honeywell you may be surprised what you learn AFTER Honeywell does the upgrade when you talk with other users with Honeywell controls on their GE-design heavy duty gas turbines. (It's amazing what I hear from sites who don't check references first, and then learn from others later about less-than-good experiences when they are discussing their equipment with others with similar equipment).

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Another thing I want to mention: I/O used on GE-design heavy duty gas turbines. A lot of it is not commonly used with other control systems, especially DCSs. For example, servo-valves. GE, of course, uses +/- 10 mA bipolar servos, and a LOT of control system don't know how to handle those properly. That's one of the issues with using a non-GE control system: how to handle I/O on the GE turbine. Servos; LVDTs; flame detection; and vibration detection. Another thing with replacing a Mark IV: fire protection.... If you buy the Mark VIe, this won't be a problem; it will work seamlessly with the existing I/O. If you buy the Honeywell and hire the right owner's engineer/consultant, that shouldn't be much of a problem, either. What you don't want is a bunch of converters (LVDT to 4-20 mA; vibration pick-ups to 4-20 mA; having to replace servo-valves).

Also, finding someone who can help with Honeywell controls on GE equipment after the upgrade can be difficult--if you ever need help. And, it's most likely you will not have a need for help with hardware or even software; it will be questions about whether or not the software is correct for the application, and finding people with Honeywell experience on GE turbines is going to be more difficult.

But, finding competent GE field service personnel can also be pretty problematic these days, and getting more difficult, too. You will have a really complicated HMI network system, even if you use MODBUS or GSM (a proprietary GE communications protocol for DCS interfaces) that can also be a problem, and a point of failure.

If the unit(s) use water- or steam injection for NOx reduction, that can be a problem for most field people, GE or not.

If you opt for the Mark IV-to-Mark VIe upgrade, that will most likely be the quickest in the field. But, there can be some wiring differences which can cause lots of problems for the GE commissioning personnel (mostly in the <PDM>, and that includes fire protection/discharge wiring) which can cause lots of delays. Or arcs and sparks if not properly sorted before power is applied.

There is a false belief that the "rip and replace" upgrade will take a LOT of time (and therefore money) so that's why most people opt for the Mark IV-to-Mark VIe upgrade. But, if you're not happy with the field wiring in the panel right now, you're not going to be any happier after the upgrade--because very little of that will change. So, ugly stays ugly.

If proper planning and preparation for a rip-and-replace upgrade is done, it can go very quickly. If someone just cuts the field wires from the crimp terminals in the Mark IV, drops them in the bottom of the panel, and then tries to find what wire goes where that's where all the time is going to be consumed. That, and troubleshooting during power-up and commissioning. Since most GE field service people are not well-trained to do loop-checks and commissioning properly and logically it can get pretty ugly--but it's really just because of the lack of knowledge and preparation and experience that causes the rip-and-replace to take longer than it should.

And, some of those same issues can happen with a Honeywell upgrade, too.... Especially the wiring. (Why people don't make tags to attach to wires when removing them which say where the wire was terminated in the Mark IV and where it should be terminated in the new control system just completely and totally escapes me! Slip-on wire markers fall off wires; sometimes the wire markers have the wrong wire numbers on them--or no wire at all. DON'T ever remove a wire without knowing where it came from and where it should go. (There are a lot of unused wires in the bottom of a Mark IV panel--some of them also have wire markers on them.... It just adds to the confusion. Think ahead. Know the process--and find a way to prevent the confusion--IT IS POSSIBLE!!! NEVER let anyone cut or remove a wire unless it is known where it is being removed from, and where it going to go to. If that happens, someone (or somethree or -four) will be sorry. No doubt about that; it's just a fact. Whether that's for a Mark VIe rip-and-replace, or a Honeywell.)

Mainly because of the complexity of the GE HMI networks these days, AND the lack of documentation and knowledge in the field about them, AND because a number of upgrades that GE tries to sell which you will probably get "forced into" buying (which can often require Mark VIe hardware upgrades, too!!!) I probably wouldn't opt for a Mark VIe. Don't get me wrong--I think the Mark VIe is hands-down the BEST purpose-built turbine control system on the market, especially for GE-design heavy duty gas turbines. (AND, I don't include the GE HMIs with the Mark VIe, because the GE HMIs can be used with other Mark*'s too.) BUT, the GE HMI system is just an abomination; especially if you opt for the new thin-client Unix workstations running MS-Windows in virtual machines (which might actually make GE HMI upgrades a little easier, ... if I understand the configuration properly, and I'm not sure I do). If you have a good deal of experience with and knowledge of the Honeywell system (including their HMIs), you can probably find an owner's engineer or consultant who can help with the turbine control system implementation. (I could be persuaded to make recommendations off-line.)

If you want changes to the existing operation of the turbine, you can ask Honeywell. And, maybe get help from your owner's engineer/consultant.

That's my two-and-half cent's worth of advice.

Having said that, you need to make sure you get good drawings from Honeywell. And plan for the wiring changes properly!

Hope this helps!!!

Your decisions and experience would be VERY helpful to others. We look forward to hearing back from you as this progresses. That's the kind of information that makes posts on very valuable.
CSA is correct again! The Mark* series are the best turbine controls systems for GE gas turbines.

However, GE seems to not understand anything. They sold the MarkVIe to Emerson.

GE only controls the software for the HMI and the logic that goes into the controller.

I want to recommend the MarkVIe path but cannot.
GE will try to push the new Active Point HMIs along with the new server-based HMI network. They have a REALLY SLICK presentation that will WOW you. The reality is: It isn't ready for prime time. That presentation is really very cool, and the promise of what can be is almost too much to pass up. But, what is actually delivered isn't close to the presentation's functionality. And at the first site I visited where it was implement along with a conversion to Mark VIe, the Mark VIe software was a mix of software types, some of it was written in the USA and the rest of it was written in Southern Asia. And the two styles of application code programming in the same device file was very difficult to follow and understand. There were continual problems with the GE HMI network while I was there, and it required an IT person from the Company's headquarters (a three-hour drive away) to come to site to get thin clients back on line.

The Mark VIe was fine; the units were reliable and they seemed to be happy with them. The HMIs on the other hand, not so. Trying to troubleshoot alarms in the application code was pretty difficult. I can only guess why the two types of application code were used in the same file. Lots of blocks which were usually only used in Mark VIe DCS applications were scattered through the application code with very little rhyme or reason; it was pretty bizarre. It worked, but, man, it was difficult to follow. And just when we thought we were through looking at the Block/Item Help files we'd find another need to decipher a block we hadn't seen before.

It's just not the same Company anymore; and for decades that was something one could count on: similarity and common programming/code. Some people might say it's a good thing it's changing, but for turbine control upgrades/retrofits it forces site personnel to have to learn something new when that's totally unnecessary. They could easily copy and duplicate what's in the Mark IV, and provide you with a list of TILs and PSBs and other recommended improvements to choose from. They could prioritize them, note any which are "required" by various technical regulations (such as API). And, they could provide a list of operation changes which you will definitely notice (like changing time from zero speed to FSNL--a VERY important thing to know!!! especially if it increases that time, right?).

But; no. They don't have any way to do that. And, as far as they are concerned--the new software is functionally the same as the old software. It starts and stops, and the unit produces MWs, right? With the click of a mouse (or three or four). Pretty reliably, after all the bugs are worked out (because of the new application code which wasn't engineered to look anything like the Mark IV sequencing).

Sorry; it just really messes with a person's mind. The process doesn't match the need. Which leaves the Customer--and the field service personnel--in a lurch. Lots of surprises.

It's still a VERY good platform, the Mark VIe. And, it was designed for GE-design heavy duty gas turbine control and protection. But, if it's not consistently programmed and the operator interface isn't user-friendly, what does that mean to you? When you have a platform you like and trust.

I know of a site which had Siemens gas turbines and Siemens DCS, and several GE heavy duty peaker gas turbines with a disaster of a PLC control system. They successfully replaced the PLCs with Siemens control systems, but it was not cheap. They replaced all of the interconnecting wire and cable, so the connections to the new Siemens hardware was much easier than if they'd tried to use all the existing interconnecting wire and cables. But, that wasn't cheap, either. The whole project was pretty expensive, but they had the money and the desire to have the same control platform in the entire plant. And, they had a really talented technician who I watched school Siemens on some of the features and functions of the software and HMIs.... If you have someone similar, or several people who can do something similar together as a team--go for it.

Just be sure to work closely with Honeywell to ensure they keep it simple, and keep the use of converters to a minimum. And leave you with usable drawings and instructions.

Again, please try to keep us informed as you go down this path. Your experiences and thoughts and decisions can be very helpful to many others. We hope to hear from you!

I've been away from the field for a while, but I still keep in touch with a lot of former colleagues.

When did GE sell the Mark VIe to Emerson?

Enquiring minds would like to know.

We have already lost 6 7EA DLN1 machines to Emerson. The first 2 were the "alpha" not the "beta" as described by the independent installer.

Of course, troubles were expected from the new controls system.

My efforts to push the MarkVIe conversion on our 5 remaining Mark V turbines were squashed after the sale.
Curious_One, I can't say with 100% certainty my understanding Emerson purchased only the GE Intelligent Platforms product line which included the GE Fanuc PLC line and the Proficy Machine Edition software.
It did NOT include the GE MARK control system hardware, GE ControlST software suite, or the Cimplicity Software Suite.

I am currently working on a PLC migration from 90-30 to RX3I and have been on the phone with Emerson A LOT!!! They are currently experiencing a "Raw Materials Shortage" which has much of the hardware I ordered in February not scheduled to ship until July!!!!! They also decided to change software licensing from a hardware key to a central license system, which has been an epic fail for us using VM's since it doesn't work.

Anything I need hardware wise, or software wise for the MKVIe I still have to contact my GE CPL, (Customer Performance Leader).

I recall hearing about this, and I did some World Wide Web searching after your post, as well.

I will contact some former colleagues/friends today (I'm flying so I should have a little time on layovers).

If Emerson bought the Mark VIe platform as part of the deal, then I would have to think they can only sell it to GE, at least for a few years. I have been under the presumption that the Alsthom Alspa turbine/HRSG controls were going to be picked up by GE Power as part of their H-class equipment--but that doesn't seem to have happened, yet. It could still be in the pipeline. It would be one way they could satisfy their agreements/requirements of the purchase of Alsthom a few years back (the one that just made everyone scratch their heads, and led to the write-off of billions of US dollars.... ).

One of the sites I looked at showed all of the products that Charlottesville produced: Series One, Three, Six; the rX line; software (such as CIMPLICITY and PROFICY--which GE Power does still use on their HMIs); etc. But there was no mention of Mark* line of power generation controls--used for turbines (gas; steam; hydro; wind--LOTS of wind turbine Mark VIe controls!).

Anyway, I'm going to keep digging. Yes; some of the Mark* hardware and software was transferred to Charlottesville with the winding down of the Salem facility, but, when GE bought the retrofit engineering from Woodward (and everyone was saying they had bought Woodward completely) they were co-located in a Woodward facility in Loveland, CO, for many years. I likened the transfer of responsibility for the Mark* line to the Charlottesville facility as something similar to the Woodward deal.

Perhaps ME42 can provide some insight and clarification? I have been wrong before, and I will most certainly be wrong in the future. Let's see where this goes.
I am not sure if the OP knows what kind of can he just opened with his first post since joining, but it has been a good reason to get my fingers warmed up on the keyboard, and an excuse to get away from the ABB HMI upgrade I have been in the midst of. Also a good offshoot of the topic to understand the status of the MARK hardware line for all of us, ME42 where are you?

you are correct in the fact that GE did keep all the software. I did state that earlier.


you are correct in the fact some sort of agreement is in place.

However, the MarkVIe was part of the acquistion.

P.S. the GE CEO lost his job over all this back in 2018 I think.