Uncertainty has become the new norm in the energy industry and 2020 promises more of the same. This is due largely to the fact that the oil and gas and utility sectors are heavily impacted by some pretty intense forces – the geopolitical climate, trade tensions and economic fluctuations, just to name a few.
Amidst these forces, here are six technology predictions for the energy industry in 2020 that can help energy companies stay focused on innovation to maintain a competitive edge.
Operational excellence is now table stakes
The energy industry has been hearing about how operational excellence (OPEX) promises to reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance the customer experience for years. Defined as the practice of joining together and optimizing the processes and data needed to operate a business, operational excellence can have a positive impact on functions ranging from engineering to operations to design.
In 2020, operational excellence will transition from a new trend to a must-have. If energy companies are to gain a competitive edge in a market that’s becoming more crowded and complicated every day, they must infuse operational excellence into every aspect of their business.
Taking OPEX to the extended enterprise
But it won’t be enough to focus on operational excellence in-house. As energy companies rely more on external partners to help run their business, they must extend the optimization of processes, information and collaboration to these third parties in a secure, efficient way. Business processes across extended enterprises must be continual, consistent and effective.
It’s not the document, it’s the data
For years, information management in every industry has focused on documents. Lately, however, forward-looking companies are beginning to realize that the value lies not in documents, but in the data they store. This year that revelation will begin to sweep through the energy industry.
Documents can be lost, stolen, duplicated, inaccurate, inaccessible, out of date. By focusing on data, companies can become more efficient, nimble and informed. For example, many new projects spearheaded by energy companies today involve 3-D designs that can’t be expressed in 2-D documents. And what used to be explained in a printed manual for, say, an industrial pump can now be learned by watching a video on the manufacturer’s website.
AI, Analytics and Automation
Following the recognition of the value of data is the realization that Energy companies must be able to analyze and interpret data in order to optimize operations and automate routine tasks.
One example is the rise of predictive maintenance, which combines artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable automated and continuous reporting on machinery and predict necessary maintenance actions before problems occur. Being able to forecast when a high-value asset might fail and automating repair and maintenance can elevate companies to new levels of efficiency and cost savings.
Digital twins offer insight into operations
In 2020, energy companies looking to improve their business should leverage digital twins to gain a better understanding of their operations and how they can be optimized. Combining data from IoT devices with 3D models and operational process data gives companies virtual simulations of high-value assets. These data-driven representations replicate physical equipment or real-world processes so that companies can quickly and confidently make operational decisions to improve the bottom line.
Streamlining training and improving safety
Another way digital twins technology is expected to impact the Energy industry is by revamping training, particularly when it comes to safety. Technology has advanced to the point where companies can develop 3D models of plants that simulate operations without safety concerns and know-how requirements. Trainees can learn how to perform operational and maintenance tasks in this trial environment much more quickly and effectively than reading manuals and more safely than on the plant floor.
These six technology predictions promise to significantly impact the energy industry landscape in 2020. By understanding them and determining how they can help improve business, energy companies can insulate themselves from some of the uncertainty that defines the industry. Learn more about how OpenText™ Oil & Gas and Utilities solutions can help.