Why your Oil & Gas operation needs an IoT solution

9 Actionable steps for successful IIoT implementation
November 24, 2020
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November 24, 2020

In lieu of current world concerns, such as the increasing importance of environmentally sustainable industrial activity, market instability, and the growing need for innovation in energy, the Oil & Gas industry faces a variety of challenges going forward. However, strategic planning and the aid of IoT can go a long way to overcoming these challenges.

IoT has a range of benefits for the Oil & Gas industry, including, but not limited to:

Increased productivity – Resource usage and management are central to the success of those in the Oil & Gas industry. IoT can lead to more efficient and more productive processes that will help manage resources and reduce expenses.

Increased safety – The Oil & Gas industry is one filled with hazards. IoT implementation is an excellent way to remove or mitigate the inherent risks in the industry, especially since IoT is technology-driven and most accidents/faults are caused through human error.

Informed decision-making – Real time data is pivotal in making relevant and urgent decisions. By analysing data from IoT sensors, research, refining, and logistic processes can be improved.

Waste reduction – In the Oil & Gas industry is necessary to prevent leakages and equipment damage that could be harmful to the environment.

Automated processes – Automated processes make it easier to detect possible faults and weak point in your Oil & Gas system. IoT can help eliminate errors (including human errors) that could lead to unwanted or dangerous breakdowns.

IoT for safety/maintenance in the Oil & Gas industry

Preventative maintenance

One of the most common reasons for revenue loss in the Oil & Gas industry is unexpected downtime and system failure. Preventative maintenance greatly reduces this risk.

IoT is useful in a few senses here:

  • It allows the collection of data from remote areas — which will alert maintenance staff to problems in a timeous manner.
  • It captures, stores, and provides access to real-time data.
  • It reduces the need for continuous on-site presence of maintenance staff.

Remote monitoring of machinery

In some industries, downtime and system faults are only harmful in that it causes downtime and loss of revenue. In the Oil & Gas industry, however, not only are accidents bad for revenue but could prove disastrous – leading to wide-scale environmental damage, and irreparable harm to your company reputation.

For this reason, it becomes vital that you track all leakages and potential weak points in your plant system. IoT helps you keep track of potentially hazardous situations from a remote place.

Real time tracking and surveillance

IoT sensors for your Oil & Gas tanker fleet can review the real-time location of your vehicles and help manage the surveillance of remote transportation depots while minimising the need for human labour. Since loading gantries are very high-risk platforms, IoT is extremely important as a tool in minimising risk and increasing security.

Worker security

Apart from the security of your cargo, you also need to think of ways to improve the safety of your workers. In the Oil & Gas industry, many accidents can be prevented with IoT. By monitoring your equipment you can ensure that you carry out maintenance when it is necessary – or, even in the worst case scenario, ensure that all your workers are out of harm’s way, should an emergency emerge.

IoT as innovation in the Oil & Gas industry

Data Capturing & Analysis

Having read up to this point, you’d be excused for thinking that IoT is only good for avoiding unwanted incidents. However, the greatest potential for IoT lies in the new opportunities it presents for those in the Oil & Gas industry. IoT-linked sensors are capable of collecting huge amounts of data in Oil & Gas plants and production and supply chains: data that can be analysed and used to improve efficiencies and practices from start to finish.

With new technologies, slow, outdated data-transfer processes (such as satellite technologies) are no longer the necessary evil they used to be. IoT now utilises Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) to transfer data, and edge computing essentially allows you to remotely analyse the large data sets in much larger volumes and return results expeditiously, which can easily be utilised by the end user.

Supply-Chain Management

While IoT simplifies the process of extracting and refining oil and gas, it also makes way for businesses to manage their supply-chain more easily. Data collected by IoT sensors can be utilised to make important decisions with regard to manufacturing, operation, inventory, transport, and communication, among others. At the end of the supply-chain, on the other hand, IoT instruments are highly effective in notifying distributors when clients are in need of new supplies.

6 steps for adopting IoT in the Oil & Gas Industry

Despite all the advantages of IoT for the Oil & Gas industry, its success is only as certain as the strategy you put in place to implement it. Slow and steady, as they rightly say, is what wins the race. These are the steps we suggest you take in implementing your IoT plan to transform the way you do business:

  1. Discover what opportunities exist for a competitive advantage

At the end of the day, you don’t just want to copy what others are already doing, you want to be noticed as a leader in your industry. See what your competitors are doing well and see how you can do it better.

  1. Rank and prioritise your IoT objectives

You cannot, unfortunately, overhaul your entire system in a single day. This means that you need to take time to discover which of your processes are most in need of IoT and start implementing it where it matters most.

  1. Choose the right hardware and consider the costs of upgrading equipment

Your prioritised objectives should drive the implementation of hardware in your IoT project. Unfortunately, however, some IoT instruments may not be optimised for use with older equipment and may require an infrastructural upgrade to make the most of the transition. Changing from a wired to a purely digital system could prove costly, which makes your implementation strategy even more important.

  1. Make the most of your data

Good analytics software can turn raw statistical data into information that is both readable and practically useful. Your IoT solution must be implemented with data analytics software. Cyntech recommends MindSphere, an IoT system developed by Siemens that provides an opensource platform so that you can make the most of your data.

  1. Secure your IoT devices

Your data is valuable, which makes it susceptible to attack from malicious external sources. This is especially true in an IoT solution that opens more channels that need to be secured and monitored. Investing in advanced security systems minimises that risk and can help detect points of attack and prevent unknown sources from intercepting or tampering with your data.

  1. Start small

We have to place emphasis again on the fact that IoT, while being the way forward in the Oil & Gas industry, is a big project and will take time to fully integrate into all sectors of your business. Not only is a broad-spectrum implementation overly ambitious, it is also unwise. Starting small ensures that you can test and determine which approaches work best and which do not (without compromising the health and operationality of your entire system).

This is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

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