Digitalisation is helping oil & gas companies to get end-to-end visibility
Published by : Industrial Automation
G Balaji, Head, Energy Industries Division, ABB India.
What is the current status of the process industry, in general, in the digital transformation journey?
Today Process Industries are looking at achieving higher productivity, reducing product lifecycle, increasing operational efficiency and safety. They face the challenges of staying compliant to the regulations and still ahead of the competition in the market. Industries need an ecosystem powered by highly connected, data-intensive digital solutions and services: Industries need a digital transformation. Digital transformation helps the industries benefit with connectivity, compatibility and collaboration, making them more flexible, efficient and productive than ever.
One of the fundamental qualifications for the digital transformation is the connectivity of devices and assets such as controllers, machines, products and even the operators along the entire value chain. Industries are building networks of seamlessly connected digital systems, and controlling and monitoring them over distributed control systems. With digital transformation, industries are improving safety, productivity and efficiency. To achieve operational performance, complete visibility and optimisation of the operations is essential. In the digital enterprise, everything is connected. Information flows seamlessly between operational systems and enterprise systems, enabling newer capabilities such as predictive maintenance, process optimisation and data-driven decision making.
Traditionally, the management of the operations in manufacturing and process industries has been divided between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). The IT teams provided the top-down view for technology support for management and operations, while OT teams provided the ground-up information for monitoring and controlling the equipment, machines, and processes. Both, IT and OT have lived in silos, with limited communication and knowledge share.
The advances in the plant-wide connectivity, and the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) with the Industrial Revolution 4.0, have brought in intelligent manufacturing technology, which bridges both IT and OT.
Can digital transformation help the Oil & Gas industry which is under pressure from alternate energy sources and low prices?
Many oil and gas companies are leveraging digitalisation to thrive in the phase of plummeting oil prices. Digitalisation is helping the oil, gas companies to get an end-to-end visibility of the performance with a granular view of their resources, and using the data and insights derived from them, draft quicker and better strategies to gain competitive advantage.
Oil and gas companies are looking at connecting the oil fields, refineries and the pipelines that will seamlessly share the information about the performance and process productivity to the next level, for improving efficiency, security and safety. They are also exploring collaborative and integrated operations with remote management to drive business continuity with reduced costs and risk.
What exactly are the digital trends the process industry can profit from? (IoT, Big Da-ta, AI & ML, AR/VR/XR, Digital Twins, Cybersecurity)
Some of the benefits that automation delivers to oil and gas customers are:
i. Alarm and safety systems to identify hazardous situations and guide in prioritising the response
ii. Capturing the information from varied sources such as test reports, shutdown reports and alarms, to ensure safe plant operation
iii. Pipeline monitoring for identifying any leak or theft
iv. Pave the way for virtual commissioning resulting in fewer on-site change, and
v. Configurable I/O reduces marshalling and hardwiring significantly, generating large time and cost savings.
When the connected field devices and machines understand the information because they use the same communication protocol, they understand the message and respond accordingly. This coordinated interaction between devices creates autonomous state and helps the machines perform any task with minimum supervision. Using advanced methods such as industrial artificial intelligence is an area of focus for ABB towards building an autonomous future for the industries.
The digital twin is one of the elements of digital transformation. It empowers industries to shorten development time, testing and production time and even reduce production costs. Having consistent data along the entire asset lifecycle is a prerequisite for the successful use of digital twin technology. The asset itself can be a product, system or factory.
Is there enough local/indigenous support for emerging technology-based products as well as customer training?
Yes, ABB India is assembling and working on many products that are mark of quality, and examples of local innovation to meet customer demand. Today these indigenous innovative products are not only helping us become self-reliant, but also are helping us differentiate from the competition and address customer needs with tailor made solutions. Today the teams in India are also actively working in propagating these solutions globally – across the borders and across continents after gaining traction and supporting other ABB countries. A few of such examples are:
1. Terminal Automation System: It is a total solution for oil, gas and chemical companies that integrates receipt, storage, movement of products through pipelines or tankers and dis-patch at the facilities. This is an advanced software optimisation package for product receipts, in-line blending, storage, planning, and scheduling of distribution for multi-product/terminals. The team in India developed this software system to meet the technical specifications of the local market. With a few years of involvement the team came up with a full-fledged product – ILM-Pro, which today has more than 25+ references for the biggest names in the Energy Sector.
2. LPG Blending Solution: Today this has become a flagship solution developed for the Energy Industry customers in India and other countries. With the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana by honourable Prime Minister, replacing fossil alternatives with LPG for household cooking, there was a rise in the demand for LPG. Instead of importing LPG as a final product, ABB helped the Oil and Gas companies with RVP based blending of Propane and Butane which not only assures blending as per requirement but also the bottom line of terminal operations. This solution is in the heart of the entire supply chain.
3. Metering skids: Accurate and reliable measurement of oil and gas products is the prime objective in custody transfer application. Earlier oil and gas companies used to import metering solutions, and thus our dependence was high on global suppliers. Growing demand at various parts of Oil and Gas supply chain motivated Indian companies to develop local solutions. Energy Industries division in ABB India created in-house competency to design, engineer, develop a completely engineered solution to meet spectrum of metering solutions.
Is the multiplicity of standards and intellectual property protection concerns hindering the process of modernisation?
Digital transformation helps the industries link the real and physical world with the digital world. But this is only possible with industry-wide standardised communication protocols and data formats including the hardware interfaces. Today, ABB is represented as one of the leading organisations developing and adopting the globally recognised standards.
To realise the objective of a fully digitalised organisation, processes and equipment must become simplified and standardised. While it is easy to replicate simple solutions than complex ones, standard methods and equipment are further straightforward and much cheaper to monitor, maintain and upgrade.
G Balaji, VP, Head – Energy Industries Division, Industrial Automation, ABB India
G Balaji is head of Energy Industries division in Industrial Automation, ABB India. He is also a member of the Country Management Committee that shapes critical management strategy. In his role as the head of Energy Industries, Balaji is driving digital transformation for many customers through co-innovation and co-creation with the customers. Balaji brings vast knowledge of Oil and Gas, Chemicals and Energy sector. In his career of close to 23 years, he has held several management positions in ABB India across operations and engineering, executing large complex projects and working closely with Global teams. He has been deeply involved in developing operational excellence and key initiatives within ABB India for our customers in the Energy sector. He has a wide knowledge of technology applications in utilities and industries, and has been instrumental in developing and executing solutions around the Industrial Internet of Things in plants and factories. Balaji is an engineer in instrumentation and control.