Digital transformation is well underway in the oil and gas industry, enabling a new era of connected workers.
As digital twins become standard at oil and gas facilities, the average O&G worker is going to find his or her typical day being spent in very different ways than it is today. No longer will workers be focused on responding to operations and maintenance issues as they arise onsite. With a complete, virtual version of a plant and real-time data at their fingertips, a worker’s focus will shift from simply reacting to problems to dealing with issues well before they become problems and production is suspended.
Proactive versus reactive
Today, most O&G plant machinery only gets attention when it either breaks down or at scheduled intervals whether it needs attention or not – a costly and highly disruptive status quo. By contrast, connected workers will be able to efficiently check the plant status, receive alerts, monitor in real-time and schedule pre-emptive maintenance all without even being at the job site in person.
Less in-person interaction doesn’t mean a drop in collaboration or efficiency, either – quite the opposite, in fact. Time-consuming trips to the site to gather information or take pictures will be eliminated entirely thanks to digital twins allowing you to always “be there.” With all this information shared simultaneously to the entire team, plans can be made and carried out quickly, replacing drawn-out meetings huddled around whiteboards and documents at the plant. Consulting with an outside expert will become as easy as a “screen share” of the data streaming into your device of choice.
In this way, keeping up with the plant’s needs becomes a logical, planned process. Gone are the days where workers spend much of their time “fighting fires” and dealing with surprise equipment failures.
Better still, all of this can be accomplished from a home computer, a tablet or even a smart phone. Safety on O&G job sites has improved enormously in recent years – to the point that the commute itself is often the most dangerous part of the job. Digital transformation will allow people to work from almost anywhere, keeping them safer as they work more efficiently than ever.
Working Through the Growing Pains
Of course, such a massive transformation doesn’t come without its share of growing pains. For all the things that will be made significantly easier, there will be some obstacles to overcome during this digital transformation. First and foremost are the new skills that workers will be required to learn, beginning with getting comfortable with new technology.
Technology will be a critical part of the workplace, and workers will need to be able to understand new devices and applications as they are introduced and add them to their “tech toolbox.” They will also need to know when to use which tool and how to communicate in this new connected world.
Even when a worker has mastery over the latest technology at their disposal, another issue presents itself: dealing with a torrent of new data and information. With so many tools at their disposal, it will be easy for workers to become lost in a sea of alerts, notifications and data points. Becoming a successful connected worker will mean being able to determine what truly needs attention at a given moment.
Fortunately, mCloud’s AssetCare platform enables oil & gas companies to contextualize, filter and meaningfully organize this flood of information as their operations grow increasingly connected. And in the era of COVID-19, these changes are coming much sooner than anyone originally planned.
Any companies passing up on the efficiencies delivered by digital transformation will have a tough time staying competitive over the next 5-10 years. Successful O&G companies will be those that continuously innovate – always looking to the future and adjusting course as needed. Those who want to thrive tomorrow should start planning today – the connected world awaits.