What is the objective of digitalisation, really? Perhaps it is being able to make faster, safer decisions, based on good data. To become an agile, effective enterprise. Some estimates indicate that internal data generated by a large oil & gas company can exceed 1.5 terabytes a day. According to Teradata,
“The upstream industry loses $8 billion dollars per year in non-productive time as engineers spend 70 percent of their time searching for and manipulating data.”
With data inherently sitting at the heart of digital transformation, the harmonisation, integration and interoperability of this data are critical to effective decision making.
Oil & gas companies are starting to realise that the true potential of data is only unlocked when it is shared across the entire asset, across various systems. Within digital asset lifecycle management, Operations Optimization has the potential to unlock incredible value for the industry (see fig. 1 below). In the upstream sector, 90% of this value can be accrued primarily by optimising drilling and production, and from leveraging the data from end-to-end connected assets to feed advanced analytics algorithms. This reduces costs related to non-productive time and improves resource productivity.
fig 1. Potential Value of Digital Initiatives and Technologies in Oil and Gas, for the Industry and Society
The decreasing cost and increasing power of these technologies are enabling the oil and gas industry to expand capabilities at the well site itself, giving rise to new operating models, workflows and practices. Not only is data more readily available, but workforce and management can make faster, better decisions based on this.
A good example of effective digitalisation over the last few decades is the massive computerisation of paper process and documents. More recently, the advent of Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) has led to massive increase in the amount of data that is made available to the user to process. While the switch from paper to digital has been a major one, with far-reaching positive results, more is required to get the most out of this information.
Therefore, as the next step in this process, these massive amounts of data need to be made available across the plant, by connecting different data silos (disparate systems and programs) in which this information is stored. Systems need to be designed with this in mind, fostering and easing interconnectivity between solutions.
This ties into the mounting change of how users interact with data. Where in the past, users were expected to dig up information throughout unconnected systems and make sense out of them, we are slowly and positively moving away from this. By conceptualising and contextualising the data, it becomes both easier to access and easier to understand. I believe the pinnacle of this is interactive visualisation.
I have used two keywords here: “interactive” and “visualisation.”
The Oxford dictionary defines them as:
The representation of an object, situation, or set of information as a chart or other image.
Allowing a two-way flow of information between a computer and a computer-user; responding to a user’s input.
One of the most common examples of this which is currently available, is how maps are used and integrated within specific applications to show information in the context of that particular application. Think of a GIS map within an online food ordering application. It provides contextual data related to places you can order food, and various other dedicated features. One of the reasons map plugins are so successful in commercial apps, is because they provide visual interaction within the application context.
Fig 2. Top: Visualising an isolation plan on top of a P&ID. Bottom: Visualising a Management of Change (MoC) process on top of a P&ID. Each layer in an interactive visualisation provides new context to the same source data.
We can use the same concept to describe the benefits of pulling 3D Models, Plot Plans, GIS maps & P&IDs (Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams) into the Control of Work space. There are two underlying principles:
- Information is always used in a context.
- Context is always supported by process.
Each layer in an interactive visualisation provides new context to the same source data. Each time you introduce a new layer to support a specific process, you change the context of the underlying data. This way, you keep getting new value out of the same data.
Where finding diagrams, marking them up by hand, sharing them and keeping them up to date used to be a stressful and time-consuming process, eVision’s digital P&ID solution, iDiagrams, turns these complex and disparate processes into intuitive software directly integrated into Permit Vision.
With iDiagrams, users are able to identify isolation points directly on an interactive P&ID, which will feed the information back to the isolation scheme/isolation instruction plan in Permit Vision. Through smart search and digital archiving, time spent on finding the correct P&ID and saving it in the right place is all but mitigated. This process takes a fraction of the time it took when using paper P&IDs and disconnected digital systems, but not only that: awareness, understanding and process compliance are all increased through effective data sharing and strict processes. Putting things into perspective, our research pilots within live production facilities have shown time savings of between 100 to 400%, compared to outdated paper and disconnected digital solutions.
In summary, it is clear that the progression from analog, to unconnected digital, to integrated digital systems is an ongoing process which is already showing strong results. By visualising and contextualising data, major gains can be had in daily operational processes, freeing up valuable time and vastly improving productivity. And as for the question posed in the introduction, there is no objective for digitalisation, because digitalisation IS the objective: the crux of operational excellence.