The key to succeeding in an ever-evolving economy to adopt new, powerful technology. Though the oil and gas industry has relied on older technologies in the past, the implementation of new technologies has allowed the industry to cut costs and increase productivity.
This may mean saying goodbye to traditional processes, but the newly introduced strategies make the industry safer, cleaner, and more efficient. Let’s take some time to review the major trends catching hold in the industry.
The Internet of Things is a catch-all for the move from disconnected, decentralized, and analog technology to a highly connected network of smart devices. The IoT uses the massive expansion in memory provided by cloud computing and improvements in communications technology to centralize the information that can be gathered across disparate devices. These devices now share data with each other and the cloud, allowing for centralized and optimized operations and oversight.
The addition of highly calibrated sensors across these devices allows them to return continuous, real-time data to the central network, giving the operator a high-resolution view of their operations. This lets users gain insight across plant and site locations from a single computer. Applications in the oil and gas industry include centralized leak monitoring, damage assessment, temperature tracking, and other quality control measurements.
Oil and gas companies are always looking for technology that will improve the safety of their operational sites for workers and the environment. Robotics and automation offer a strong basis for safety and quality working conditions to be built on.
By offloading mundane, labor-intensive, and potentially dangerous activities to automated systems, oil and gas site operators can maximize both the safety of their workers and the efficiency of their operations. Robots are capable of continuous work with heavy machinery without the same potential for human error, significantly reducing the opportunities for accidents. There are also fewer opportunities for low-level chemical exposure to workers. For example, sludge removal in storage tanks is more suited to robots than to humans due to the harsh conditions inside. In general, automation offers safety as well as time- and cost-saving opportunities to optimize work.
Big data and data analytics represent major trends in industries from finance to healthcare. They offer the chance to make use of the massive new streams of data available from the IoT and other operational data sets. On the operations side, data analysis techniques make use of the data flowing in from every stage of the workflow via the IoT to suggest improvements and opportunities to streamline processes. Data gathered about current market trends can also be used to make informed decisions about business strategies and future investments.
Artificial intelligence (AI) systems have their place at all levels of the oil and gas industry. Upstream and downstream analysis can make predictions, identify trends, and suggest strategic improvements relative to any particular company’s place in the industry. As for midstream operations, AI can provide the backbone of responsive operations systems, which can all be coordinated through the IoT. This includes opportunities to optimize processes, operate machinery at maximum output, eliminate costly errors, and signal sources of potential damage.
AI’s place in the industry is firm — it’s currently being leveraged to manage complex logistical shipping problems and identify potential reservoirs. Future implementations will only offer more possibilities for increased efficiencies.
The oil and gas industry is pushing the boundaries of AI, IoT, robotics, and automation. It will only continue to do so as it realizes the opportunities that these technologies bring with them. The drive to cut costs and increase production will keep the industry on the cutting edge of smart technology. Each company has unique operational demands, leading to unique implementations and dynamic new solutions.
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