The great benefits that IoT devices are generating for humankind can be seen in many social and economic ways. From smart cities to wearables, IoT is enhancing the standard of living for nations, cities, societies, and individuals, but there is also a negative impact. Currently, IoT device deployment presents certain challenges which are related to data processing, security, scalability, and last but by no means the least, sustainability.
The Oil and Gas (O&G) industry, which has also been affected by the rise of IoT devices, is making use of its benefits and suffers the challenges that come with it. The Internet of Everything (IoE) can help accelerate the IoT deployment for the O&G industry, by being the top layer that orchestrates data, devices, people, and processes. A synchronization that functions on a decentralized level, with knowledge-based AI, and clustered edge computing.
Before we continue, let’s describe some concepts mentioned above. As these are relatively new, and it is quite possible that they are not clear, like — Internet of Everything (IoE) and Edge Computing, and how these can aid the acceleration of IoT devices deployed in the O&G industry.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a fairly known concept at this stage, but when we start talking about the Internet of Everything (IoE) things get more complicated. In fact, a common thought is that IoT and IoE are the same things, and this isn’t true. IoT performs on the connectivity between physical devices. In contrast, IoE extends to a wider spectrum which includes IoT, other technologies, and people as end-nodes.
In this way, any object can be configured to have connectivity and interact with other devices and people, as well as the processing of the data. This creates a holistic approach with the objective of generating valuable information, exchanging it, and facilitating relevant decision-making. Such an approach opens an array of possibilities for better management, maintenance, new lines of revenue, or health and security for the O&G industry.
Edge Computing is an essential part of the Internet of Everything, enabling it to keep data processing at a local level. This is paramount because it provides independence from data centers, and consequently from internet connections, as in essence, edge computing aims to move the computation away from data centers. The idea is to exploit smart objects, mobile phones, or network gateways to perform tasks and provide services on behalf of the cloud.
Operating within edge computing offers the O&G industry huge benefits as these resources might be found in remote locations. It reduces the power of cloud providers, in terms of latency and real-time data to information, which is crucial for correct IoT data-management. Therefore, investing in technology that works on the edge is fundamental for industrial O&G companies that are looking to implement IoT devices within their infrastructure.
After a brief introduction to IoE and Edge Computing, let’s look at the benefits that IoT deployment can bring to the O&G industry. Foremost, the benefits are found in what’s called IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). O&G companies benefit from IIoT by developing an integrated deployment strategy. This allows them to keep an eye on different operations and optimize, automate or digitize them as per need.
1. Managing emergency conditions
Oil exploration and production companies are often located in remote locations. This makes it difficult for help and support to reach the oil extraction site during emergencies such as oil spills.
Without inter-connected monitoring devices, the O&G industry won´t be able to supervise and address conditions that may result in catastrophes. It can also result in unanticipated shutdowns which results in high repair costs and massive losses due to non-productive time (NPT).
IoT allows O&G companies to remotely monitor and control various on-field processes, enabling them to manage conditions that otherwise should have resulted in emergency shutdowns. They also gain extra time to predict otherwise undetectable malfunctions to reduce NPT.
2. Asset Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance
In many oil refineries, there are multiple facilities for particular units. Generally, one of these facilities is kept on standby for inspection, maintenance, and repair operations. This, even though necessary, restricts O&G companies from functioning to their full potential.
IIoT equipment and energy monitoring solutions allow refineries to overcome this barrier and run at full throttle. By measuring variables that affect the performance of a facility (pressure, temperature, flow, etc…) from remote locations, a company can schedule maintenance needs based on need instead of a hunch or the time of day. IoT solutions thereby empower inspection and maintenance procedures and help refineries run all simultaneously and reach full potential without worrying about unforeseen breakdowns or malfunctions.
3. Establishing workers' health and safety
With tons of moving mechanical parts and an abundance of toxic and flammable fluids, the O&G industry isn’t an optimal working environment most of the time. On top of that, exploration sites are often located in remote next to inaccessible areas making working there even more difficult and dangerous.
Inspection and maintenance in such conditions can be extremely difficult even for the most trained workers. But IIoT and IoT infrastructure allow a company to monitor the performance of machines and on-floor operations distinctly. This reduces the manual inspection and maintenance tasks. Moreover, IoT wearable devices can be used to keep track of workers that are working in dangerous areas, which makes it easier to assist them in case an emergency arises.
4. Supply chain management
With a consistent rise in operational costs and oil prices, O&G companies are looking for ways to cut costs to maintain the total expenditure. The supply chain is one field where it can be possible to reduce operational costs.
IoT gives Oil and Gas companies the opportunity to manage their planning, scheduling, and procurement processes. In the entire supply chain, IIoT will help them analyze and process data from different endpoints to develop useful insights for further processes.
5. The possibility of real-time data
With IoE Corps solution Eden, O&G companies will also benefit from the possibility of real-time data. Instead of having data moving back and forth from data centers such as clouds all the time. All necessary data is instead saved in nearby "private gardens", and the less necessary data stays saved directly in the nodes. This reduces the costs for data transfers enormously, is an optimized sustainable solution, and eliminates both latency and bandwidth bottlenecks.
O&G is a vast industry that requires a lot of variables to be managed at once. IoT and IIoT implementation simplify the process of monitoring these variables through sensor technology, advanced telemetry, and systems of connected nodes. All sectors benefit from IIoT as it creates a connected ecosystem within the entire infrastructure.
Applications such as equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance are already helping the sector to grow and create value through its integrated deployment strategies.
With IoE Corps Eden solution, the O&G companies will also benefit from a reduction in the energy and money spent on data transfers, at the same time becoming more sustainable as well as eliminating latency and bandwidth bottlenecks.