We’ve all found ourselves in a very strange new world very quickly. The unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has left many industries wondering how to navigate the road forward.
Fortunately, the oil & gas industry is no stranger to dealing with crises brought upon by nature. In 2017, for example, Hurricane Harvey’s 130+ mph winds over the Gulf of Mexico caused major interruptions to offshore activities requiring workers to be evacuated from one-fifth of the Gulf’s manned production platforms.
Of course, energy companies have rigorous contingency plans to cope with these natural disasters. However, COVID-19 has brought on new challenges in disaster planning and response for the oil & gas industry.
Plant engineers and technicians are obviously indispensable assets in keeping plants running smoothly. Unfortunately, during a pandemic such as COVID-19, workers congregating in close physical proximity with each other is no longer possible. Government-mandated social distancing guidelines mean only the minimum number of field engineers and workers can conduct day-to-day operations and maintenance (O&M) onsite.
A new type of natural disaster requires a new contingency strategy
For this reason, COVID 19 is compelling energy companies to quickly re-think their contingency strategies to ensure the safety of their workers while mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic. Fortunately, there are remote work technologies that can be implemented quickly to help oil & gas companies adapt to this new kind of natural disaster.
mCloud’s AssetCare solution for the connected worker is already being integrated by oil & gas facilities to meet the social distancing challenges of COVID-19. The platform leverages hands-free augmented reality (AR) glasses with embedded cameras that transmit live video by facility workers to experts anywhere in the world to resolve issues quickly, eliminating the need for travel and in-person contact.
Previously, when workers ran into a problem that they couldn’t solve themselves, production would stop and they would wait for an expert to arrive onsite to diagnose the problem and fix it. This is now impossible during the COVID-19 crisis. However, if a problem is left unresolved, companies can face huge losses due to lost productivity.
A remote expert solution is proving invaluable in the field
This scenario can be avoided with AssetCare. Its “Ask an Expert” feature allows a field worker to ensure off-site technical personnel “see what I see” and troubleshoot issues in real time. A securely attached head-mounted display and voice-activated user interface allows safe and convenient operation by the worker throughout the plant even in noisy environments or when climbing scaffolds or towers.
AssetCare also delivers instant access to documentation and drawings appearing transparently in the worker’s head-set display while maintaining visual contact with their surroundings. Video and images can be recorded by the head-set wearer as well for digital documentation.
The solution is proving invaluable in the field. Just recently, an mCloud oil & gas customer in Canada was attempting to start a compressor at a facility that required the real-time advice of the U.S.-based manufacturer. Instead of the manufacturer having to travel to Canada and meet with workers onsite, he was able to successfully instruct the workers remotely via AssetCare.
Easy integration and long-term value
The solution integrates easily with existing systems and implementation can be as simple as downloading the software to the headsets provided by mCloud as well as on any computer or device you want connected.
The good news is when the COVID-19 crisis recedes and social distancing is no longer required, AssetCare will continue to deliver value through reduced travel time and costs – as well as reduced carbon emissions - as experts find they can effectively oversee many facilities remotely. Companies will also find the solution serves as an indispensable tool for enhancing the performance of field workers while shortening the learning curve for those on-boarding at a facility.
While remote work solutions are the best near-term contingency for oil & gas facilities during COVID-19, long-term solutions should also include 3D digital twins to reinforce the industry’s digital resilience. We will discuss this much more comprehensive technology solution and how it can help the energy industry avoid the ramifications of similar crises in the future.
In the meantime, stay safe and healthy everyone.
Contact us today to find how AssetCare™️can help your facility continue its maximum productivity amid the current social distancing requirements.