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From ‘ghost chasing’ to intelligent operations for energy companies

Like every industry, the energy sectors are undertaking digital transformation. But despite years of pursuing operational excellence, many energy companies are still struggling to create an integrated and optimized environment within operations. Premier Oil has quoted research showing that 86% of all maintenance is either reactive or unnecessary. The study found that almost one in three maintenance trips in oil and gas were for issues that didn’t exist – only 4% were for equipment that had actually failed. Another study found that virtually two-thirds of maintenance work orders resulted in no value-added work.

When operations and maintenance engineers are not armed with the information they need to do their work effectively, they end up looking for issues that don’t exist. This has been called ‘ghost chasing’. A move to intelligent operations will make this a thing of the past.

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

If we look at the world the operations engineer lives in it is inherently complex. To undertake a task or work order, the engineer must access data from multiple sources, often stored in multiple systems, locations, formats and taxonomies. These disparate systems have often been around for a good number of years leading to siloes of information that is not easily reconciled.

To maximize productivity and enhance decision-making, a single intelligent platform is required that allows the operations engineer to access work orders and then have all the related information automatically delivered to them. For this to happen, the key operations systems have to be integrated. The engineer can create a single search that goes across systems, select the necessary information and have it presented back in the format on the device of their choosing.

It’s important to remember that this is more than fast and efficient information provision. The purpose is improved decision support so it’s easy to find the correct information and know that it’s up to date and accurate.

Defining intelligent operations

The energy sector has spent decades investing in a range of enterprise systems, such as PLM, ERP and ECM. The user experience has often been unsatisfactory and frustrating, and the systems themselves have offered very little – if anything – in the way of automation or process integration. Organizations have prioritized investments in the ERP capabilities over digital improvements to operations. According to IDC, almost three-quarters of organizations don’t have defined plans to transform their operations.

The result is frequent mistakes from engineers having to access information in multiple systems. The engineer isn’t armed with all the information they need when arriving on site. Or, as we’ve seen, the work order is unnecessary or the problem simply doesn’t exist.

Intelligent operations overcome these challenges by integrating information from multiple systems and data sources to provide complete visibility into an asset and its condition. It provides a clear path from the collection of asset data from IoT devices through to the eventual provision and completion of predictive maintenance tasks. This approach is built around a single enterprise information platform that:

  • Captures and cleans the data from multiple sources
  • Performs analysis and AI to optimize the required work orders
  • Schedules the work orders to minimize downtime
  • Integrates the required data and content systems to provide the operator with the necessary information to undertake the task
  • Pushes the data to devices best suited for the operator, ie laptop or smartphone
  • Builds reports and dashboards for management assessment and continual improvement

Intelligent operations: the journey to modernization

It’s important to understand that this vision can’t be achieved quickly. Most of today’s energy organizations operate aging assets, with the supporting data in many different formats and systems from paper to 3D models. It’s necessary for organizations to map out a journey of modernization and chart its way through each stage of the journey to successfully establish an intelligent operations culture and operation:

  • Stage 1: Establish a single system (single source of truth) for key business functions based on industry best practices – such as ECM, EAM, Design, Inspections, etc.
  • Stage 2: Build integrations between key systems to support single data access
  • Stage 3: Integrate change management processes across systems
  • Stage 4: Apply data analytics and AI to enable asset performance optimization
  • Stage 5: Implement a fully intelligent operations strategy combining IoT, EAM, ECM and operations systems

A systematic approach to the modernization of your operations will enable intelligent operations that not only reduce times, effort and costs by improving insight for workers, it improves your entire OEE performance by integrating data sources to streamline your work processes.

I recently discussed intelligent operations with Mark Pyatt from Accenture on the latest Oil and Gas IQ Podcast. Visit the website to listen to the podcast.

If you’d like to know more about how OpenText solutions can help you implement intelligent operations in your business, visit our website.

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Martin Richards

Martin Richards is a Senior Director for Energy Industry Solutions at OpenText. For over twenty years, he has worked with ECM technology, delivering professional services and solutions for the energy and engineering industry.

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