Read Mr Pattabhiraman Ganesh, Director - Wireless Solutions, Emerson thoughts on the digital transformation of the energy industry.

How do you see Digital Transformation reshaping the energy sector?

Currently, major National and International Oil Companies are engaged in developing strategies to leverage Digitalization to enhance efficiency and speed of their operations. They are looking at how they can take advantage of data and advanced analytics that are available today to help them with real time insight into their operations that will enable them to make informed and timely decisions.  Naturally, they have concerns about the security of their data and the Return on the Investment they would have to make. Hence, they are taking a cautious approach.  We see that the Industry has recognized the potential of digital transformation; it is NOT “if” but “when” the transformation will happen on a large scale. We believe that digitalization will change the way Plants are operated. This will make them more efficient, more reliable, safer, and help to improve their operating margins.

What is driving innovation in Digital Transformation – strategy, technologies or both?

The short answer is both. New technologies and tools become available that provide users with an opportunity to do things in a way that they could not do before. This reduces non-productive time spent, for example, accessing and analysing data and dealing with missing information. As these technologies become available, users create strategies that are based on the new capabilities which, in turn, require the adoption of more new technology. The two enable and accelerate each other. More than ever, today, the Industry is faced with challenges of maintaining their margins in a much more competitive environment. Digitalization allows them to address these challenges.

How is Emerson driving innovation in Digital Transformation?

Emerson has several decades of experience of providing automation technologies and services to the Oil & Gas Industry and helping to solve their problems. More importantly, Emerson has a proud history of bringing innovative technologies to the market –  in a broad range of applications including Field Instrumentation and Sensors, Control Systems, Safety Integrity Systems (SIS), Final Control, Fiscal Measurement, and Reliability Analytics.

Emerson’s Plantweb Digital Ecosystem is a scalable and proven automation platform with standards-based hardware, software, intelligent devices, analytics applications and services. Through Plantweb, end users can securely implement the Industrial Internet of Things with measurable improvement when it comes to business performance. Emerson’s Plantweb provides a proven combination of technologies that delivers a clear Return on Investment (ROI) through building on existing infrastructures and investment.

How will the customer journey be impacted by Digital Transformation?

Our customers are faced with an overwhelming need to embrace new technologies and take advantage of the benefits that Digitalisation can bring. However, there is also a tidal wave of hype surrounding what Digitalisation is, and what it can do. Emerson’s customers can take advantage of building on the automation investments that they have already made, and leveraging those investments, to implement architectures that deliver measurable business benefits from clearly defined projects. They can start their journey small, with  small scale implementations of clearly defined applications, or they can engage Emerson to undertake an Enterprise-wide Consulting engagement to jointly construct a journey  to achieve Top Quartile performance and Operational Certainty. Either way, the steps will be defined and the benefits measured.

Are you able to give a use case study or an example of a company that has applied digital transformation in the energy sector and how this has tangibly improved its business?

Due to Confidentiality Reasons, we are unable to name specific company names, however, there are examples of Major National and International Oil Companies including those in the region, that have deployed these solutions in their Oil fields and have benefitted from the same. Reduction in capital cost and time to getting first oil and during the operational phase, Real time quality data on their production enables better decision making and has helped them reduce operating costs. Further, they have been able to reduce the exposure of personnel to potentially toxic environments, thus enhancing safety.

What are some key indicators of better measuring/assessing customer’s satisfaction along this journey?

There are explicit and implicit measures of success and customer satisfaction. The 2016 Smart Industry State of Initiative Report said that a lack of understanding of IIoT projects on the business was increasing, from 44% in 2015 to 46% in 2016. In other words, almost half of the IIoT projects undertaken do not have a clear business case. Emerson believes that every IIoT project needs a clear set of objectives and benefits that it promises to deliver. The explicit measure of success is whether the project delivered no less than the predicted benefits, for no more than the predicted cost, in no longer than the predicted time. Without these traditional measures being met, it is impossible to claim success. The implicit measures are related to adoption and further projects. If Change Management is not properly implemented, and the workforce does not embrace the new way of doing things, one could argue that the project failed even if it hit is budget and numbers. Additional projects that build on and extend the first are the best implicit measure of success.

What role does IoT play in the digital transformation journey in the energy sector?

IoT brings real time and actionable information to key stakeholders make informed decisions. It enables them to implement Strategies that were either impossible or prohibitively expensive in the past. It helps connect all aspects of business from supply chain to shipment.

Is Big Data really the new oil?

In a way. The difference is that the oil was always there, and Big Data is relatively new. However, oil needed new technologies and new skills to extract it, refine it, and distribute it. Those new technologies and skills were initially invented and adopted by a few successful companies who went on to change the commercial face of the planet. Early successful adopters of Digitalisation have the potential to do the same. It should also be noted that vast fortunes were lost in the early days of the oil industry by those who had blind faith in prospects and claims that were unsubstantiated. The corollary word of warning is that adopters of Digitalisation need to ensure that the technologies that they are adopting can really deliver the benefits that are claimed. Machines cannot, yet, survey a vast sea of data and find meaningful correlations that will help you to run your business. Big Data on its own has no value - it is only when applications and analytics distil it into Better Data that it enables prediction of a future state that allows a company to improve reliability, safety, energy usage or profitability. Those applications will likely take a very clearly-defined subset of the data and require some data management. Big Data is not a universal elixir, and nor was having pools of rock oil in your backyard in the mid 1800s in Pennsylvania! On their own, neither will make you rich. But with carefully selected technologies, applied using new skills, and through changing the way you run your business, the sky is the limit.

About

We made the point earlier that Emerson has a proud history of bringing new technologies to market, and we continue that trend. Our Modular Multiphase Flow Meter allows users to select a three-phase meter with the combination of accuracy and price point that is appropriate to their application. This enables a Multiphase Flow Meter to be implemented on each well in some scenarios. Users who do this, and who compare the production data in real time with what their well models were predicting, can use another Emerson innovation – the Big Loop – to select better families of model candidates and predict future performance in a way that history matching will never be able to achieve. This is an example of where vast amounts of data can be produced by innovative sensors, and corralled to create meaningful business results. Another example is the use of non-intrusive sensors to measure traditional variables such as process temperature, or less commonplace factors such as corrosion, or the health of steam traps, or the physical condition of electrical terminals. These data sources, along with the process values that already exist, can feed applications that allow users to predict the health and capability of their plant; enabling fewer process excursions, higher reliability, lower risk, and reduced energy costs. Not so much Big Data; more Better Data.