Multiplicity always is a boon, competitiveness is healthy
Published by : Industrial Automation
Prema Suresh, Director, Mumbai Operations at TechnipFMC.
What is the current status of the process industry, in general, in the digital transformation journey?
Data is available everywhere as we have already automated our processes; however the journey of linking these data to a Data Centric approach, which is the backbone of digital transformation, instead of silo-based, has just started a few years back. Utmost we can say that digitalisation has been spotty in some sectors and minimalistic in others. Whilst the Design Companies in process industries are well advanced in deploying the digital tools that enhances the efficiency and productivity that even helped during the pandemic situation, in the operations of process plants – digital transformation is yet to accelerate. During Covid pandemic situation, this unpreparedness to harness the full functionality of the digital platforms has come out acutely when we could have done better in remote commissioning of plants, troubleshoot the equipment, quality surveillance, inspection, remote accessing and operating the control panels and systems.
Can digital transformation help the Oil & Gas industry which is under pressure from alternate energy sources and low prices?
During the times when all stakeholders across the globe are rooting for Energy transition, net zero design, etc., the only way to be sustaining in the conventional energy front is by reinventing and reconfiguring so that the costs (CAPEX and OPEX) are lower and returns are more lucrative. In the same context of reducing the carbon emissions, recent plans as reported by section of media that some countries are banning sales of gasoline cars by 2030 are putting an enormous pressure on the O&G players to adapt and compliment themselves to the Alternate Energy horizon – it is imperative to take head on the measures that could alleviate these pressures. The current trends in digitalisation such as IIoT, Big Data and also emerging trends such as AI & ML, AR/VR would be the game changer for the O&G industry.
What exactly are the digital trends the process industry can profit from?
Well, as explained in my previous responses, all the digital trends can be put in a gainful use; however what is required to look into are the concern/pain areas and policies that act as hindrances in immediate implementation and harnessing the full functionality of the digital tools.
Is the multiplicity of standards and intellectual property protection concerns hindering the process of modernisation?
Multiplicity always is a boon, competitiveness is healthy, it provides the end users with numerous options and end users are smart enough to find the best suitable options. Having said that, multiplicity of protocols and standards shall not put the end users in a fix when going for an upgrade that makes the cost prohibitive.
IP protection of course poses hindrance as it involves technology and technology related know-hows that come from many years of research and huge data analysis combining their experience of selling their technology and technology services. It involves circumventing the issues related to Non-Disclosure agreements, etc. The industry will definitely find its own way of addressing these challenges.
Safety and Security remain key concerns, especially in politically sensitive regions. Are there enough safeguards?
Safety and Security is the most important, critical concern area that requires more awareness to be built in – whatever Cybersecurity we have put in place – there are hacking and security breaches that occur and keep the operation personnel on their toes and be wary of the extent of digital transformation that they can be open for. There has to be stringent audit systems in place and all patches and upgrades in the software/hardware shall be put through rigours of security testing.
Prema Suresh is the Director (COO) of TechnipFMC (Mumbai Operating centre) and responsible for the operations, projects, project services of Mumbai office. She has extensive experience in the various functions of Oil and Gas industry including the Head of Engineering for about 22 years. She had been sponsor of various Digital transformation initiatives of TechnipFMC. She is also a certified functional safety engineer with experience of chairing SIL assessment studies.