Typically, a picture is worth a thousand words, but this time, you have to see it to believe it! I’m talking about Honeywell and their new Training & Customer Experience Center in Pasadena, Texas, just minutes from downtown Houston.
I started my morning as usual…early, with a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal to get my day going, but this was no typical day at the office. I was at DFW Airport waiting to board the plane for my quick flight to Houston and the grand opening of the Honeywell Training and Customer Experience Center.
Upon arrival and after checking into the hotel, I was whisked away with Jerry Laws, editor in chief of OHS magazine, to Pasadena for a special media tour, a sneak-peek if you will, of Honeywell’s facility. Located in an all-industrial region within the heartland of the oil and gas industry, this facility has one main purpose: to save lives by providing an immersive, hands-on, training experience to discover, experiment, learn and enjoy!
The Experience Center
Walking into the facility, huge panels filled with images of Honeywell’s customers paves the pathway down the red carpet leading into the experience center that is filled with areas dedicated to heavy metal fabrication, construction solutions, utilities and energy, confined space, first responders and oil and gas. What makes this area so inviting is that visitors can explore, touch, open lockers, and try on and examine equipment first hand.
Even though there were mannequins sporting Honeywell’s latest and greatest safety equipment, I just had to try on a Harley-Davidson Personal Safety Wear hard hat, with a silver skull and blade graphics, and of course, the famous Harley-Davidson logo while tinkering with a handheld PID by ProRaeGuardian that provides portable, wireless gas detection technology.
Taking the experience center to the next level are interactive kiosks as well as placards with QR codes to share information with visitors.
There is also a vision room in which the walls are designed as dry-erase boards, and a computer monitor is mounted on the wall that can support 3 other computers. Here is where the collaboration begins and the possibilities come to life. Visitors can actually sit down and speak about their challenges and successes with Honeywell professionals to create innovative solutions together.
“We want to do what our customers want to do, not what we want to do,” stated Mark Levy, president and CEO of Honeywell Life Safety.
The grand finale is a theater where visitors can see Honeywell Life Safety employees as well as hear the passion in their voices about the job they do each and every day.
“The name ‘life safety’ is the way we live life. It’s not just what we say,” explained Carl Johnson, president Honeywell Analytics Global. “We want to send people back to their families every day, after work.”
Honeywell Training Institute – Where Instructors and Students Conquer Safety
No matter the subject, to effectively learn, students must be taught theory and then given the chance to apply that theory in a controlled, instructor-led environment that simulates real life scenarios.
Located within the facility, through huge viewing windows in the experience center, visitors’ eyes are guided to what is called the “training gym,” beckoning entrance into a world of simulated, work-place dangers. This provides the hands-on element of the Honeywell Training Institute.
Contained in this one large space are nine structures that replicate workplace dangers including a utility pole, an oil field pipe rack, a wind turbine center, a confined space, a house as well as a 30-foot tower all of which can be climbed on and utilized as teaching tools to increase work-place safety. This allows students to participate in simulated, dangerous situations in a controlled, gym-type environment with an instructor before doing them for real, out in the field.
A safety-harnessed mannequin dangling from the side of oil field pipe rack enables instructors to create real-life scenarios, allowing students to perform rescue drills while the confined space area has flashing emergency lights, the ability to fill with smoke and functional emergency communication equipment. Students can even experience what if feels like to dangle in a harness from 30 feet in the air!
“We teach the students how to do each life-safety maneuver. Afterwards, the students are required to teach us (the instructor) and the other students how to do the maneuver,” explained the lead instructor of the Honeywell Training Institute.
This enables students to effectively acquire the knowledge as well as understand how to apply it.
In addition, the institute provides a separate corporate-style classroom with two large projectors, one for each side of the room. Rows of tables with electric outlets to charge electronic devices and desk chairs encourage cooperative learning during the lecture part of each training program.
During break time, students can congregate in the break room to discuss what they are learning or have learned. Food and beverage vending machines are available as are tables and chairs.
Facility Tour Reflections
I, along with four others from the media, completed the tour of Honeywell’s new facility in about 2 hours, and by then we were all stoked about the next-day ribbon cutting ceremony.
Traveling back to the downtown Houston hotel, I reflected on the tour. I couldn’t believe how interactive the facility was and is, enabling visitors and students to participate in such a rich experience that highlights work-place safety. Not only that, but the sheer size and scale of the Honeywell Life Safety Training and Customer Experience Center is mind boggling and cannot be captured by a simple photograph. You just have to see it to believe it!