We are working on creating a digital backbone that has digital enablers
Published on : Wednesday 07-12-2022
Chanpreet Sahni, Vice President Sales – India, Hexagon.
How is the pace of the process industry in general, Oil & Gas in particular, in adopting digital transformation?
Almost every industry is rewriting its operating landscape thanks to digital technologies. The oil and gas industry is no stranger to this and is slowly but surely, progressing towards digital maturity. Like all adoptions, the oil and gas industry is not the first mover, but once established, it moves quickly; the same has been true for Digital Transformations as well. The recent few years have witnessed government institutions take giant strides in adopting a digital-first strategy. The industry has rapidly realised the potential benefits of going digital – like increased productivity, safer operations, and cost savings. Furthermore, for the process industry, one of the biggest advantages of adopting digital technology could be the resilience these technologies offer to weather the industry’s downturns.
Data is at the core of any meaningful solution and given its humongous nature, how effective is the solution in extracting the useful nuggets?
The convergence of Industry 4.0 technologies to enable a successful digital transformation has made one thing clear – data-driven foundation is the key. Data-based insights can enable oil and gas companies to not only maintain their assets but also optimise production, reduce unplanned downtime, and secure the assets from various threats.
For any digital solution to effectively extract meaningful insights, the primary step is to aggregate the data through system integration, sensorisation, and shifting from paper-based management systems to digital systems. The data must be orchestrated correctly in a unified manner and the infrastructure management system must be firmly in place. A lack of any of the above can lead to a systemic failure of the digital solution in place.
Sustainability is today a major recurring theme across industries. While Greenfield projects can factor this at the concept stage, what about the challenges faced by legacy plants?
Climate change and technology are affecting almost every industry on a global scale; none more so than the oil and gas sector. This is a moment for oil and gas companies to make thoughtful choices: improve their economic and reputational resilience and consider whether and how to reposition themselves to take advantage of the accelerating low-carbon winds of change. A number of oil and gas companies have already set net-zero-emissions targets.
Legacy plants particularly face a major challenge to improve their environmental footprint to meet the increasingly stringent standards while improving performance to ensure the valorisation of their assets and reducing the costs to remain competitive. Evolving government climate policies, direct public and shareholder activism, and changing investment strategies by major institutions are creating urgency for oil and gas companies to reduce emissions. Again, data holds the key in Brownfield or so-called legacy plants. If the operator can make the right decisions on emissions without impacting efficiency or production, it would be much easier and faster to reach our goals.
Another example is efficiency increase. Currently, we at Hexagon are working with our clients globally to break the silos of data to bring them more and importantly, the right data to make informed decisions. In the end, we do more with the same assets and hence create more sustainable assets.
How are emerging technologies like AI & ML, AR/VR/XR, Digital Twins, etc., impacting asset lifecycle management for better profitability?
Like any other industry, the oil and gas industry also recognises the power and impact that emerging technologies can have on the industry’s performance. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to their immediate rather than transitory adoption. Adopting emerging technologies such as AI, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and IioT in day-to-day oil and gas operations, enables the oil and gas industry to improve productivity and profitability by streamlining operations and cutting costs. These digital technologies can deliver actionable insights for an oil and gas asset and help companies to reduce their capital and operating expenditures.
My observation is that apart from all the obstacles, since these technologies can transform the industry and create a synchronised ecosystem to meet future energy demands, an increasing number of oil and gas companies are upgrading their assets with digital technologies for long-term gains.
Breaking the siloes is a recurring theme when discussing implementation of emerging technologies. How does Hexagon approach this issue?
The key to success in any industry is communication. If your teams aren’t communicating clearly and working together, the workflow is going to break down.
We at Hexagon encourage our customers to adopt tech and tools to improve visibility throughout their asset’s lifecycle. Investing in an intelligent data management solution can help mend the broken processes, reorganise storage, and put data into a more logical order so employees will find the required information much faster. We are working on creating a digital Backbone that has digital enablers such as AI/ML and Big data at its base, which, in turn, through a Single Pane of Glass, provides structured data to the end client based on their role and function to have a longer asset lifecycle and improve productivity. This allows different employees, teams, and departments to lock in their workflows and make data-driven decisions that align with the company’s goals.
Solutions exist, but often the will to implement is lacking. Typically, what is the RoI or the time span to show results? What is the Hexagon experience?
RoI is essential in any project we undertake. At Hexagon, we have four pillars: Safety, Productivity, Efficiency, and Sustainability. Every solution or implementation we undertake needs to have end results under these pillars. These, in turn, provide the RoI to our customers.
If we talk about timelines, for each solution, it’s different. Some of our solutions have provided real-time RoI’s in which the downtime in shift change and handover have reduced by 30% by implementing our Operations Management solution. We have also worked on projects in which the RoI is through the lifecycle of the asset in which the client has utilised our Project Monitoring and management solution to see better on-time delivery and on-budget projects. Hence, if we focus on the pillars, as I mentioned above, we are directly contributing towards the RoI of the asset.
The industry is also wary, not without justification, about safety and security of assets and information. Are there adequate safeguards?
Securing assets and information is paramount – for the national economy and environmental wellbeing. A breakdown in security measures at energy sites can cause operational havoc and disruption, which could have a devastating impact on the national economy. It will cost the industry millions of dollars, risk lives, and may do severe ecological damage. Therefore, safeguarding the oil and gas assets throughout the lifecycle, from exploration and extraction to refining and transportation, is now considered a top priority.
Companies are continuously looking for and adopting comprehensive security risk management strategies and new technologies to address emerging threats and mitigate security risks effectively. However, there needs to be more adequate safeguards and subject matter experts who can consult energy sector companies to make intelligent decisions. We at Hexagon have constantly been emphasizing the importance of securing assets and information through our PAS solution.
Chanpreet Sahni heads the India Business Operations for Hexagon Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division. He has 16 years of experience in Oil & Gas industry, majorly in Downstream. He has held various leadership positions prior to Hexagon and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He spearheads Hexagon’s strategy to support customers in their digital transformation journey.