Understanding why we should invest in proper process control starts with understanding the costs of not having an optimised process control system. Process control is currently underused in most industries, potentially because the benefits of optimising the process is unknown, or we are unaware of the potential added costs an unoptimised process can lead to.
The objectives of an automatic control system are to regulate the process to meet the final product specifications and minimise waste production and energy consumption, hence lowering the environmental impact of the process and maximising the production rate, while ensuring safe operation. Because operating as close as possible to these maximum or minimum objectives are most profitable.
We all know how a small, trivial thing can escalate and turn into a big problem. A tiny decimal point can make all the difference. Consequently, it’s important to know what can go wrong if even a small variable is set incorrectly, and of course how to detect if there are any potential problems that can develop within our control system.
Before engaging in a strategy of using channel partners for control and safety systems, it is vital to understand possible difficulties and hurdles in order to find ways of mitigating these difficulties.
Industry leaders in the Oil & Gas business sector may have a global network providing products and services to their customers. The local presence is often provided in part by a channel partner. A channel partner is a person or organisation that provides services or sells products on behalf of a software or hardware vendor.
We know from experience that within the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical (OGP) business, control and safety systems play a vital part of the safe and effective operation of a plant. Over the years, this has resulted in a situation where OEMs almost have a monopoly for the sourcing of hardware and support services for supporting these vital and complex systems. However, there are alternative sourcing options for these control and safety systems.
Some of today’s advanced factories have technical equipment that was installed several decades ago, and the systems in the factory have been subject to radical changes. Technology has also been changing radically. Where equipment used to be manually operated, mechanical devices are now automated devices with more computer power than the largest computers used to have.
The vision for the future in the oil and gas industry is to develop installations that are unmanned, digitalised, fully automated, remotely overseen and monitored by humans. In this context, both topside and subsea infrastructure, including operation, drilling and well services, will support autonomous operations by using artificial intelligence, digitalisation, drones, and robots. All logistics on sea and interfaces to the field will cater to autonomous vessels, overseen and monitored remotely in centralised centres, which handles multiple assets and fields, in different locations.
Many operators are looking into moving control from local facilities to more centralised operation centres, either as part of restructuring their operational strategy, as a result of a strategy, a change program or a drive to make their operation more efficient. When you are preparing the move from local to remote operation, there are plans and preparations needed to be made. These are related to organisation, technical solutions, the current state of the site, and the strategy that lies at the bottom.
Currently, there is a trend for improvement and change programmes in the Norwegian oil and gas industry and the level of ambition to improve the way we operate is at an all-time high. Some companies put hundreds of millions, even up to billions of NOK, into development programs, digital roadmaps, digital transformation targets and so forth, but are we able to take these developments into good use?