Refinery Report | IIoT Transformation Coming to Operations and Maintenance Teams
Grant Gerke | July 11, 2018
Reducing operation and maintenance staffs (O&M) during the oil price plunge in the midsection of this decade wasn’t a surprise, but the unseen wrinkle was the increased automation investment at the oil field level. Developers moved away from offshore investments and added more sensors for pumps, valves and motors in the fracking fields over the last eight years.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article (sub reqd), “Oil’s New Technology Boom Spells End for Roughnecks,” the post reveals how hiring is not coming back as oil prices rebound and after the Internet of Things investment (IIoT) investments.
As a reader of Efficient Plant’s IIoT blog, this sounds familiar (From WSJ article):
For Mr. Neece, the changes could reduce the number of jobs he used to do by more than 25%, analysts said. Automated control systems can send commands to underground tools that capture data on a well’s geologic formations, flow rate and other variables. Smaller teams of technical specialists located in remote operations centers are replacing laborers on the ground, who in the past made adjustments manually.
As mentioned, Efficient Plant’s IIoT beat has been describing these moves for three years and now Accenture has released a 2018 study, titled,”The Intelligent Refinery,” to document the maturity of this downstream application as it relates to digital transformations. Accenture, Inc. partnered with PennWell Knowledge Center to deliver this survey to 8,320 refinery professionals and in the process received 169 responses.
One takeaway from the 169 responses is the early stages of digital infrastructure for refineries. “While nearly 50% of the oil refiners surveyed rank themselves as digital or semi-digital, there was little evidence of true digital maturity. Pilots and Proofs of Concept do not make for an intelligent refinery—full-scale digital adoption does,” according to the report.
However, this chart below shows substantial moves towards a more nimble refinery structure. Almost a 1/3 of the participants show their company is “creating new organizational structure/models.”
Overall, Accenture’s take reveals really high expectations for refineries at this stage of IIoT era. As a seasoned manufacturing professional, the digital transformation of refineries could be happening quicker but their upstream allies, field operations, had an inherent advantage — modular pieces — and can be more nimble.