Oil & Gas - An Evolving Industry
Advancing technology is rapidly transforming the oil and gas industry. Wireless sensors are not new, but recent innovations such as LoRaWAN communication unlock a new, never-seen-before equilibrium between price and performance. Combined with the rapid expansion of digital data platforms, we can give real-world interpretation to these data points. Right now, we have a revolution underway.
I-Iot is proving to be a disruptive force for the better.
It enables companies to continually gather data and have a real-time overview of what is happening on site. Generate enough data, and you can create a Digital Twin, which can be used to hone procedures, rewrite methodology, and accurately scrutinise efficiency and accountability. Factor in the benefits of predictive and preventative maintenance, and it’s easy to understand why many large players are implementing these systems. So, knowing this, the question becomes not if but when will your site be next in this global wave of transformation.
What has changed?
Since the creation of automation, there has been the question of which assets to monitor. Until now, the typical strategy was simply monitoring the top 10% of assets – namely, the assets used most and those most critical. In which infrastructure do you invest thousands of dollars to monitor digitally? Alternatively put – with which assets is it financially acceptable to risk failure? This approach made a lot of economic sense.
Over the past few years, a tremendous technological shift has greatly affected the oil and gas industry. This shift has allowed concepts – long dreamt of – to now become realistic, affordable options. In our everyday, non-industrialised way of life, it is hard to imagine a world without the internet and its technology. But, until recently, wireless technology, Machine Learning and Data Analytics were still a long way from the control room.
The truth is having only the first 10% of assets connected doesn’t come remotely close to achieving a sufficient data overview.
While system architects long contemplated integrating super-intelligent systems in the past, it was never feasible financially. Technology was simply too expensive. Today, things are different. Over the past few years, a perfect alignment of technical advances and capability – combined with far lower costs – at last makes these concepts financially viable. These include innovations such as;
- Enhanced Sensor Capability,
- Machine Learning and Processing,
- Better Wireless Capability,
- Increased Battery Power & Power Harvesting,
- Better Internet Capacity, Speed and Stability,
- Improved Security,
- Lower Price-point.
There are also a few hidden benefits. Companies are increasingly aware of the benefits an advanced I-IoT platform can bring to a facility – in physical and financial terms.
CIOs can see the benefits of bringing cutting-edge technology into the business. It dramatically raises the company profile and kudos for being involved in such technologies; played well, it places the company in the position of market visionary, potentially attracting new customers. This technological investment also has a very positive effect on retaining knowledgeable engineers and attracting new ones.
Sophisticated I-IoT platforms allow engineers to produce detailed reports showing greater accountability and value. Data-driven reports will ensure customers know how products are handled, and if there are any complications or losses, account for how they occurred.
The Future Facility - Achieving Smartification.
We at TWTG have a clear vision of how digitalisation should operate in a modern facility. We use this to guide our development of products.
We understand that it’s not commercially viable to physically replace every asset to achieve digitisation. Because of this, we ensure every NEON sensor is retrofittable. Meaning, that the new sensor attaches to the existing asset to achieve digitisation. We call this smartification.
By making retrofittable sensors, smartification can be achieved for a fraction of the price of the previous solutions. Literally, a few hundred dollars, as opposed to several thousand.
With a far lower price point per sensor, it becomes financially viable to create the level of smartness needed to achieve a total holistic view. A fully connected facility connecting thousands of assets contributing data from every relevant measuring point.
Such an amalgamation of data creates a solid foundation for applying machine learning techniques. By learning the data sequences that occurred before particular events, a sophisticated I-IoT monitoring solution can spot these and issue a warning before the event reoccurs. True predictive analytics.
Viewing a site not as a series of disassociated nuts and bolts but as a single living entity with a virtual nervous system allows engineers to understand a facility at both macro and micro levels. At the macro level, an engineer can interrogate the complete facility, a group of assets, or just a single device. Here, an engineer can see connections, sequences and nuances that weren’t obvious before and begin to understand the hidden relationships between these different assets.
At the micro-level, an engineer can analyse a single device and its data – assessing performance or looking for anomalies or other tell-tale signs of deterioration.
Having a mirrored digital understanding of a facility – the Digitial Twin – gives engineers the ability to fine-tune the functionality of assets, identify event sequences, and even model scenarios.
In simple terms, a facility will run easier. Operations will be less routine-driven. Day-to-events will become more agile and less reactive. Engineers will have the ability to see things coming and predict events before they happen. This isn’t a vision of the future. This is now.
After safety, for senior engineers and site managers, maintenance and planning are about one thing: Reducing Downtime. A single hour of downtime can negate weeks, possibly months of advantage gained from multiple other activities designed to increase efficiency or save costs. A few hours of downtime could be the difference between success or failure over a year.
TWTG is proud to play a part in this revolution. Helping companies gain a competitive advantage by utilising the latest technology, employing new methodology, and redefining their industry practices. However, like most revolutions, this is only the beginning of a process, but it’s a process set to continue as increasingly more Oil and Gas companies implement LoRaWAN.
As the industry becomes increasingly data-savvy, companies understand that procedures and maintenance cannot be left to chance, and their future depends on data backed by knowledge and experience