Honeywell China committed to driving innovation based on local needs
By Kiran Kaur Sidhu April 1, 2019
- Developing the C919 aircraft to compete with the Boeing 737 at a cheaper price point
- Honeywell is the largest producer of gas turbine APUs found on many leading aircrafts
“EXPLOSIVE industrial growth means that China needs to become more efficient in generating and consuming power, all while reducing pollution,” said the opening video at the Honeywell Technology Experience Centre (HTEC) in Shanghai. There are two others in Washington DC and Dubai, with Shanghai being the largest.
China’s pace of growth is unprecedented with a doubling of its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in eight years. Honeywell China specifically spans 50 locations in the country with over 12,000 employees and more than US$2 billion (RM8.16 billion) in sales.
With its ‘East to East, East to Rest’ strategy in place, Honeywell China is committed to driving innovation based on local needs.
The company's four business groups are Building Technologies with smart building solutions, the chemical business Performance Materials and Technologies (PMT), Aerospace, and Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS). The HTEC visit provided a clear overall view into the latter two business units.
The C919 journey and aerospace market share
Honeywell China plays an integral role in growing the country's aerospace industry through partnerships with Chinese aerospace companies Commercial Aircraft Corporate of China Ltd (Comac) and Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
Its latest collaboration is with Comac to develop China's first narrow body aircraft, C919, to compete with the Boeing 737 at a cheaper price point. The C919 has a seating capacity of 190 passengers and is built with four Honeywell technologies: the flight controls, the navigation system, braking and wheel system, and the auxiliary power unit (APU).
"The first test flight was done in May 2017 which proved very successful. Now, we're in the midst of getting certification. Once that is done, commercial testing can begin," said HTEC manager of communications Ryan Ding (pic).
However, there is still a long way to go before the C919 hits the market, considering the US and China trade war tensions. For the aircraft to enter the US and other airspace, it will require certification by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other agencies.
As for aircraft engines, Honeywell focuses on small to midscale aircrafts which include business jets, while commercial jet engines are produced by General Electric and Rolls Royce.
Capitalising upon its expertise, Honeywell extends this same engine technology into its auxiliary power units (APUs) which are essentially individual power generators. Honeywell is the largest producer of gas turbine APUs found on many leading aircrafts. With more than 95,000 APUs produced and more than 36,000 in service today, Honeywell has a large APU installed base and is poised for further growth.
[Paragraph edited for clarity]
"Globally, it was Honeywell that invented the idea of APU. It provides power for the main engine to start quickly and all on-board devices," explains Ding, adding that it also has the capacity as an in-flight backup power generator in case of emergencies.
In fact, in 2009, the APU played a critical role in aiding the infamous Captain Sullenberger in the safe landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after his aircraft suffered a dual engine failure from a bird strike.
Logistics support for e-commerce
Under the SPS business group, Honeywell offers solutions for companies to increase productivity. "We focus more on the retail and smart logistics areas," said Ding, highlighting the wide use of e-payment scanners in China.
Providing insight into the adoption of its solution, he said that the coffeehouse chain Starbucks uses Honeywell QR code scanners in outlets globally.
The e-commerce boom has also led to a strategic business decision on Honeywell's part. Ding explains: "The reason why e-commerce is so big in China is the backend logistics support and Honeywell has that capability."
By acquiring a stake in FLUX Information Technology, a leading warehouse management and supply chain software company in China, Honeywell is able to service customers outside China.
The smart distribution system focuses on inventory, order and transportation management. "In the US, Amazon is our biggest customer. We provide the smart distribution system for their centres."