Q&A with Pat Kelly, Trusted Advisor to the Oil & Gas Industry
With more than 35 years of experience at a Fortune 100 company delivering solutions to customers in the process industries, Pat Kelly has joined mCloud at an opportune time. Now that our acquisition of Autopro is complete, Pat will be invaluable in accelerating the adoption of mCloud’s AssetCare™ platform in the oil and gas sector throughout the world.
We recently sat down with Pat to discuss his new role as Director, Process Solutions at mCloud.
Q. Can you describe the experience you bring to the table?
I’ve spent my entire career in the process industry automation space, figuring out how to build and deliver solutions that solve customer problems. It always starts with understanding what problem we’re solving and then working with customers to approach the issue in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible using the best tools available to drive value.
Q. Why did you choose to join mCloud?
CEO Russ McMeekin and I had worked together years ago at Honeywell where we focused on growing the advanced technology part of the process solutions business. Russ reached out to me a few months ago to discuss the opportunity at mCloud as it moves into the process industries.
I saw an opportunity to leverage my years of experience designing and building solutions for process industries customers while working with a solid organization like Autopro that’s done a very nice job of providing value to their customers over several decades. I also saw the potential for mCloud’s AssetCare™ platform to deliver real, measurable value to customers in oil and gas and the broader process industry space.
The job felt familiar but with some interesting twists because of the new approach mCloud is taking and the technologies being applied.
Q. In your mind, what are the key benefits that mCloud’s solutions bring to the oil & gas industry?
mCloud enables companies to start connecting assets into the cloud environment and apply sophisticated monitoring and analytics to optimize operations. We can also apply a new layer of intelligence to assets that are already connected and identify areas where there might be some challenges.
Once assets are connected, we can help improve overall production and efficiencies, keeping the plant running and running well. We can identify areas where assets may need maintenance and move towards a more predictive approach to alert customers to issues before systems fail to avoid outages and more costly repairs.
One key challenge we’re hearing a lot about is managing the industrywide shift from experienced workers to new employees. We have heard from several customers that they have field operators who only have a year or two of experience and may not be nearly as familiar as the company would like with where each piece of equipment is located and how to operate and maintain it.
With AssetCare, we can offer the ability to have a new field operator wearing smart glasses connect with an expert to have them see what the field operator sees. This ensures that the operation they’re going to perform is correct to avoid incidents and enhance reliability and safety. We can also offer a 3D model, or digital twin, of a facility to help trainees visualize the plant and understand it better.
Q. Do you feel the process industry is open to these types of changes?
We’re already seeing that shift occurring. The industry knows the automation system is a critical asset in a process facility. It must be running well to make sure that you continue to have safe, reliable and efficient production. If critical assets stop working or aren’t working properly, it could lead to a shutdown for the plant until it can operate safely again.
Beyond maintaining consistent production, automation can reduce maintenance costs while also increasing profitability, especially if things are oversized for what’s needed.
A good example is the way that many oil and gas gathering systems are designed. Often they are oversized because they were built from a conservative engineering perspective to accommodate the variations when many wells start up at the same time. We can apply AI and analytics to improve the coordination of wells to increase the overall production of the facility. With improved operation, the facility may be able to add wells without increasing the gathering system or reduce gathering capacity that is oversized.
Q. Why do you feel that mCloud can compete with some of the bigger players in the space?
First, I think we’re much nimbler than the bigger companies. They’re coming from a different heritage when it comes to applying these new technologies. Second, we have a strong focus on understanding unmet industry needs and how our tools can address these needs rather than being technology focused. Third, our subscription-based model allows us to achieve a different price point and commercial model for delivering solutions.
Q. Do you have additional thoughts on the opportunity to work with the Autopro team?
Autopro has achieved a position of being trusted advisors for its clients. They are highly capable and consistently deliver quality work. Autopro has also developed deep domain expertise in the automation space with longstanding relationships with many, many customers in Western Canada. When you combine the technology mCloud has with the local presence, trusted relationships and domain expertise of Autopro, some new and powerful solutions are possible that will lead to very compelling outcomes.
It’s been a real pleasure to start working with Autopro and building a shared vision to scale our combined capabilities globally.