Energy asset information deserves to be seen

The “great white whale.” That’s how McKinsey & Company refers to the quest by energy companies to get value from digital technologies.

Like Captain Ahab’s nemesis in Moby-Dick, value from digital technologies is “anxiously hunted, dimly perceived, enormous and elusive,” McKinsey writes. It’s an apt description. Many organizations within the oil and gas, utility and chemical industries want to move toward more data-driven and digital operations, but progress is slow.

The reality is that information within these organizations remains trapped in functional silos across the enterprise and incredibly hard to access, directly impacting overall energy asset management. The very data that operations, maintenance and engineers rely on to operate and maintain physical assets—across pipelines, electricity grids, refineries and other energy facilities—is hidden away, nearly as unseen as the elusive white whale.

Just how hidden? 28 systems deep

It’s easy to see how we got here. Most operating assets in the energy industry are more than 30 years old, with related information in old-school paper or 2D formats and stored within ungoverned content repositories. Added to that base is the multitude of solutions deployed over the years—from process and safety and ERP, to workforce management and health, safety and environment (HSE) systems. These systems all play vital roles but typically operate independently, with little automation or interoperability.

What’s more, while engineers and plant support staff are used to searching for documentation based on unique tag identifiers, content is not always indexed accordingly. This forces operational support employees to track down information on their own, piecing together content from various places to gain what they hope is a complete view of the asset.

Consider a maintenance engineer who receives a work order that is linked to a management-of-change request for a not-in-kind change for a specific piece of equipment. This requires generating up-to-date technical drawings (such as piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs)), equipment data sheets and standard operating procedures, and validating accuracy. So the engineer has to start an information search, which is often cumbersome and time consuming.

There must be a better way.

Creating a connected asset foundation

To move toward digital transformation and more easily access content within their systems, organizations must first be connected to enhance asset information management. This is referred to as managed integration. With an enterprise content management system such as OpenText™ Extended ECM as the backbone, organizations can bridge existing silos and organize and present operational data based around an asset—allowing users to view data in one place based on a universal ID. This allows various operational and support staff such as process safety, maintenance and engineering to intelligently create and manage documentation that is required to operate safely.

Make asset information findable

By connecting data within systems around a universal ID and creating a comprehensive tag database with information extracted from native CAD drawings and documents, all asset information becomes universally available. Engineers can graphically navigate from a central point—such as within a P&ID or within the tag itself—to other related data from a tag or ID, all within a single search and retrieval access point. A layer of intelligence can be created by surfacing data within documents such as a tag-to-document reference library. This enables a layer of data insight and intelligence that drives efficiency in the way work gets done.

The result? Employees can harvest complete asset information, activating asset tag links within technical drawings (P&IDs) and PDFs.

Accelerate digital engineering

Learn more about how Asset Information Management for Energy and Asset Navigation for Energy helps energy companies create a foundation for operational effectiveness—turning the elusive digital transformation strategy into an attainable quest. If only Ahab had had such resources. With an easy, integrated way to see all required asset information, regardless of where it resides, organizations can unlock buried data that is critical to promoting safe and productive engineering, operations, process safety and reliability.

Phil Schwarz

Phil Schwarz is the Industry Strategist for Energy at OpenText. With two decades of energy industry experience, Phil has become a trusted SME, having supported operators, EPCs, service providers, and OEMs across the entire value chain. Phil is an engineer by education and has a MBA, M.S. in Economics, and a Graduate Certificate in Smart Oilfield Technologies. He resides in the Anchorage, Alaska area and loves to hike and enjoy the outdoors.

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