Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the next big thing that’s happening across the industrial sector. An offset of the IoT, this technology revolves around the use of sensors, devices and software for industrial automation. A survey by McKinsey Digital states that IIoT is set to make an economic impact of up to $11.1 trillion by 2025. Companies that invest in IIoT are estimated to capture a major share of the profit margins. The oil and gas industry is one of the industries where IIoT is expected to play a huge role, both in terms of optimizing processes and enhancing safety.

Below are the four IIoT advantages for oil and gas industry to leverage and add value to their integrated business strategies.

1. Asset tracking, monitoring & maintenance:

A typical oil and gas company has multiple refineries that need to be regularly inspected for maintenance and repair. Though it is very important, in many cases, the staff may not be able to do a thorough physical inspection due to various reasons. Setting up an equipment and connecting it to an IoT network can help reduce the need for manual inspections a great deal.

IIoT can be effectively used in monitoring the working condition of field devices, sensors, actuators, valves and other assets of the refineries. Sensors can be fitted on the pumps, pipes, filters, valves and other components. These sensors collect data regarding the asset operation, temperature, speed, pressure or other parameters based on pre-determined conditions. They transmit the data in real time to an external storage, that could very well be on cloud. An experienced technician can analyse the data collected by the sensors to identify if there is any malfunction or impending malfunction in the asset.

At the same time, the sensors also enable technicians to keep track of all the mechanical components of the machineries used in the refineries. It also enables managers to keep track of the replacement parts and spare parts. Based on the tracking details, they will have information regarding the exact location of the new spare/replacement part. Therefore, IIoT enables real-time asset tracking and monitoring, which is not possible during manual inspections.

Moreover, the data collected by the IIoT network allows proactive identification of possible issues. So, technicians can immediately go to the exact point where the anomaly was observed based on the data and do the needful.

2. Data management:

The second major advantage of using an IIoT network is efficient and effective data management. Technologies such as cloud computing, standards based connectivity solutions, etc. help in better data management, which in turn reduces expenses and improves the profit margin. Integrated sensors collect data using industrial protocols from various assets present in the supervisory networks, plant networks, fieldbus networks and ICS networks. Cloud is used to aggregate, integrate and store data from different sources in different formats. Methods such as edge-analytics and edge-processing are used to analyse data and gain insights and information.

Two factors affect the informed decision-making process. First, is the need for reliable and accurate data, and second is the loss of experienced personnel due to organizational restructure or retirements. Through data analysis and remote monitoring, effective asset management and set up of maintenance programs will ensure that the decision makers streamline and optimise the rig operations.

Real-time data obtained from the IoT network can be used to improve the extraction process and drilling strategies. A study by Bain and Company shows that effective use of data management can help oil and gas companies improve their production by 6 to 8%. Also, with monitoring and maintenance, a lot of the unnecessary expenses can be cut down. Plus, the staff don’t need to spend a lot of time and effort on the field trying to identify possible causes of problems. The automated network brings all the data to their fingertips on their systems.

3. Supply chain, logistics & transportation

The supply chain and logistics is one place where IIoT can be very beneficial. Based on the data collected from various touchpoints of the network, managers can plan and schedule their procurements, supplies, and identify the best practises. Connectivity is a huge problem when pipelines and ships are transporting oil and gas. At such time, the stakeholders need to rely on satellite communication to transmit data. It is also difficult to regularly check the working condition and obtain regular updates on the oil pipelines or the ships. Low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) can be installed in areas of pipelines that are difficult to access. Additionally, wired and wireless networks can be setup along the transportation lines to collect relevant data and transmit it to a cloud source via the satellite connectivity. The office staff will have reliable and accurate information that will help them organise the oil deliveries better.

4. Health & Safety:

One of the major areas where IIoT can play a huge role is health and safety of the employees as well as maintaining the carbon footprint of the refinery. Oil and gas drills and refineries are usually located in dangerous and far-flung areas away from the crowded cities. While the remote location makes it convenient to drill oil, the same distance can make it difficult when there are health and safety issues. A network of connected sensors can help get real-time data on what’s happening on the ground. Also, remote equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance can greatly reduce machine repairs and breakdowns. Data such as pressure, air conditions and other parameters captured by the sensors and real-time images captured by surveillance systems can help ensure that the highest safety standards is maintained at the job site. The workers at the drill site are asked to wear wearables with trackers to ensure their locations can be immediately identified and notified in case of emergencies. All this data can be used to reduce accidents and fatalities.

The IIoT data helps reduce spills, pipe leaks and accidents, which could cause environmental damages. It can also be used, to analyse and identify areas where the carbon footprint can be reduced.

IIoT is definitely the future of the oil and gas industries. This technology helps enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs and aid business growth by delivering real-time and accurate data. Utthunga is a tech-based company with expertise in industrial automation. We can set up an integrated IIoT system for all your oil drilling sites and refineries based on your specific requirements. Contact us to know more.

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