Top four IIoT advantages for Oil and Gas industry
A technological enabler that can digitize industrial operations is the immediate need for the oil and gas sector. Internet of Things is one such technology that acts as a solution for the majority of the problems that the oil and gas sector faces today.
The adoption of IoT technology can make astronomical changes for this sector and help it maintain a competitive edge in the global O&G enterprise.
As per McKinsey Digital, by the end of the year 2025, the technology of IIoT can make a total economic impact between $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion. By jumping on the IIoT bandwagon, various industries have benefited in terms of monitoring, analytics, and cognition. All the segments of the oil & gas industry, have in one way or another, also taken a boom from this technology in terms of process optimization or proper asset utilization.
Oil and gas companies benefit from IIoT by developing an integrated deployment strategy. This strategy allows the companies to keep an eye on different operations and optimize, automate, or digitize them as per need. Below are some of the advantages that IIoT present to the oil and gas vertical.
1) Managing emergency conditions:
Oil exploration and production companies are, in most cases, located in remote locations (sometimes even in seas), far off from any proper human habitation. Hence, it is very difficult for help and support to reach the oil extraction site during emergencies (for example, oil spills).
Without the adoption of inter-connected monitoring devices, the oil and gas industry won’t be able to supervise and address conditions that may result in catastrophic circumstances. This can result in unanticipated shutdowns followed by unforeseen repair costs and costs oil companies a massive ton of money due to non-productive time (NPT).
IoT allows oil and gas companies to remotely monitor various on-field processes that enable them to manage conditions (similar to oil spills) that can result in such emergency shutdowns. This gives them ample time to predict otherwise undetectable malfunctions and schedule preventive maintenance to reduce NPT.
2) Asset Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance:
In most of the oil refineries, there are multiple facilities for particular units (For example, the LPG production unit can have four facilities). Generally, one of these facilities is kept on standby mode for subsequent inspection, maintenance, and repair operations. Even though these procedures are necessary, they restrict the O&G companies to function on their full potential.
The implementation of IIoT based equipment and energy monitoring solutions allow refineries to overcome this barrier and run on full throttle. By measuring variables that affect the performance of the facility (such as pressure, temperature, and flow) from remote locations, a company can schedule maintenance tasks based on need instead of a hunch. Let us understand this with an example:
Consider a centrifugal pump that is transferring oil at a higher head. These types of pumps are manually filled with fluid (oil in this case) to prevent the formation of air pockets before they are turned on. This process is called priming and is a scheduled maintenance procedure that must be done for efficient plant operations. However, the air-pocket can also be generated in the pumps due to inconsistent oil flow.
Inefficient priming or air entrainment can obstruct the flow of oil, causing the pump to heat up and fail. With the help of IoT powered real-time alert system and predictive maintenance, an operator will be alarmed if the flow of fuel is inconsistent, or if other variables are outside of the pre-defined range.
Hence, IoT empowers inspection and maintenance procedures and help oil refineries to run all of their facilities simultaneously and reach their full potential without worrying about unexpected breakdown or malfunctions.
3) Establishing workers health and safety:
With tons of moving mechanical parts and with an abundance of inflammable & toxic fluids, the oil and gas industry does not present an ideal working environment. Furthermore, they are sometimes located in remote and practically inaccessible areas that make working even more dangerous and difficult.
Inspection and maintenance tasks in such hazardous conditions can be even more difficult for the most trained workers. IoT connected infrastructure allows a company to monitor the performance of machines and other on-floor operations distinctly that reduce manual inspection and maintenance tasks.
Moreover, IoT based wearable devices can be used to keep track of the workers that are working in dangerous areas. Hence, in case an emergency arises, the exact number of trapped workers along with the location can be identified, boosting the evacuation and treatment operations.
4) Supply Chain Management:
With a constant rise in oil prices, O&G companies are looking for areas where they can cut costs to maintain the total expenditure. The supply chain is one such field where they can focus to reduce operational costs.
Internet of Things allows oil companies to manage their planning, scheduling, and procurement processes. In the entire supply chain process, IIoT will help them to analyze and process data from different endpoints to develop useful insights for further process. For instance, based on the amount of oil stored in the tanks, an oil refinery can manage and control its procurement procedures.
IIoT for Oil and Gas Companies:
Oil and Gas is a vast industry that requires a lot of variables to be managed at once. IIoT implementation simplifies the process of monitoring these variables through sensor technology and advanced telemetry.
The upstream, midstream, and downstream segments of these sectors benefit from the seamless framework of IIoT, as it creates a connected ecosystem within the entire infrastructure. Its applications, such as equipment monitoring and preventive maintenance are already helping this sector to grow and create value through its integrated deployment strategies.
This article was written by Sanjeev Verma, the founder and CEO of Biz4Group, based out of Orlando. He has conceptualized the idea of Biz4 Brand and founded Biz4Group and Biz4Intellia. He has 20+ years of experience in boosting IT-based start-ups to success. In the past, he has worked on leadership positions with Marriott Vacations, Disney, MasterCard, Statefarm, and Oracle.