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 close to monopoly for the sourcing of hardware and support services for supporting these vital and complex systems. However, there are alternative sourcing for the 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 programs 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?
There’s been a development in the oil and gas industry over the past years, especially since the huge drop in oil price back in 2014. Previously, the earnings were so high that the way of operating and the way of specifying the facilities and running the projects, was completed without a lot of focus on cost-efficient solutions. The drop in oil price changed this, and now, lean/agile/digitalisation methods are high on the agenda to achieve a more cost-effective and optimised business.
The quick answer is yes, because it can help prevent accidents and loss in production. It ensures a maintained alarm system, which is more cost efficient than having larger alarm rationalisation projects at irregular intervals. For new projects and modifications, the alarm philosophy is the basis for the changes, so this should be in place in order to have an optimal alarm system.
An alarm list from ABB 800xA alarm management system
How can you know if your alarms are giving you a problem? There are different indicators that can be seen when we are experiencing alarm problems, and they usually show up in the alarm system.