Organizations worldwide have exponentially increased investment in digital technologies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that change the way they operate. As we begin to enter the post-pandemic era, many of those changes are here to stay.
In industrial settings, the connected worker is driving this change.
Incorporating smart devices, IoT sensors and cloud computing into everyday operations is evolving the workplace as we know it today. These digital technologies help increase collaboration between workers at remote facilities and subject matter experts in dispersed locations to overcome challenges of reduced travel, less face-to-face time between teams, and limitations on on-site staff.
As these technologies evolve and their use becomes more widespread, value gained by an organization will also increase exponentially by enabling real-time collaboration between a distributed workforce and real-time access to data for workers out in the field.
What is a connected worker?
If the connected worker is the future of operations, let’s start by answering the question: What is a connected worker?
While there’s no single definition to capture every industry, connected workers in the oil and gas industry are personnel that are typically working in isolation from other teams or team members and integrated into their environment by connective technologies. Examples of the technologies that they connect to include:
- Platforms – access to real-time IoT data and artificial intelligence (AI)
- Visualization tools – 3D digital twins and extended reality user interfaces that enable peer-to-peer information sharing in an immersive environment
- Smart devices, IoT sensors and wearables – passive data sharing that drives critical business decisions in real-time
- Cloud and edge computing – sharing data efficiently and at scale in real-time across an entire organization
Connected workers range from field workers and engineers to operators and executives, and this massive transformation of adopting digital technologies at industrial facilities is keeping organizations connected in ways that were previously unavailable.
What is the future of operations?
Connected workers positively impact the business outcomes of operations in several ways – more than what can be covered in a single blog post – so let’s cover two of the main benefits today and one that could quickly be a focal point of oil and gas operators.
Digitization of workflows takes business-critical processes and moves them online. By digitizing any paper form or step-by step workflow, organizations reduce error, and increase transparency and productivity. All data collected can be viewed in near real-time by all authorized personnel across an organization, and by layering on an AI solution, teams can be given accurate insights to make more informed decisions.
Workers in the energy industry often operate in high-risk, remote environments. With connected devices, these sites can be made safer, while also increasing productivity. By deploying connected workers who can communicate in real-time with experts across the organization, companies can rely less on travel and sending multiple personnel to site.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Directly and indirectly, the oil and gas sector accounts for about 42 percent of global emissions and must make strides to reduce emissions to support the Government of Canada’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Connected workers are perfectly positioned as “sensors” for detecting fugitive emissions daily and initiatives are underway to harness this technology with lighter form factors so it can become a natural part of a worker’s gear, like personal protective equipment (PPE).
Currently, experts with specialized equipment will monitor sites for fugitive emissions every few months. By utilizing connected workers, organizations can deploy continuous leak detection on a daily basis and using the data collected, empower workers to take action quickly, reducing excess emissions.
The future is the connected worker and the possibilities are endless.
The uptake of innovation over the past couple of years was expedited due to the pandemic, but that momentum isn’t likely to slow down. Connected workers are helping organizations increase collaboration, safety, and productivity, while solving challenging problems.
What challenge could a connected worker solve for your organization? Contact us to find out.