Augmented operations in Abu DhabiApril 4, 2019
C.G. Kulkarni, founder of Bell Energy, talks to TOGY about the technologies the company is currently focusing on, and the role it sees for emerging areas. Bell Energy provides specialised consulting services in the field of risk management supported by technologies that help maximise performance while reducing risk.
What is Bell Energy’s current focus considering the evolution of the industry?
Having established its position as one of the leading superior-quality HSE service providers, the company is now concentrating on the following areas: first, artificial intelligence and its application in the oil and gas industry, and second, augmented and virtual reality.
Bell has decades of experience in developing plant models using process simulators, steady state/dynamic models for designing, plant operations and training. Using these models and the vast amount of data that is received online from the plant operations, Bell has developed tools that do data reconciliation, establishing trends and thereby making calculated predictions such as when the product will be off-spec or how much heat should be provided and when to compensate the deactivation of a catalyst, etc. Or this could be to predict when the compressor or pump will need preventive maintenance.
One can find numerous applications of this in the oil and gas industry. As a matter of fact, Bell is currently doing precisely this for a refinery in Asia.
What tools have you developed so far in the field of VR/AR?
With the intention of augmenting human potential using VR/AR, Bell has developed applications that help manage emergency response more effectively. We are using our technology to train personnel for emergency response management.
These tools simulate a real-time situation in which you train with a group and each individual needs to react according to the role assigned to them in the case of an emergency. The application reads whether or not personnel can go through the correct sequences and communicate with each other, recalling locations of staff and who should be doing what in a given emergency situation.
An example would be if a platform were on fire and the employee who saw the fire did not communicate to another in the control room to stop pumping the fuel before trying to put it out. It’s these small things that turn into big disasters on a rig or a platform and personnel can be trained for them beforehand, and not just by reading about how to act in the event of an emergency in a training manual or by seeing a video.
Now with VR and AR, you can put your employee into the learning environment so he or she can actually see and hear fires or explosions which will elicit the emotional response that not only puts them in the situation but also solidifies the memory and body response for recall in a real-life situation.
What AI tools have you been working on?
We have so far developed and successfully implemented machine learning for rotating equipment failure prediction and maintenance management. We validated our model for a number of end-users and are working with other companies to make them see the use of AI in improving performance and efficiency.
Where is VR/AR in the development stage as a technology and where is it useful as of now?
VR and AR are new technologies that still need improvement. As we have been working with them in the training realm, we know where they are most useful, especially for oil and gas companies. For example, they are useful for building datasets and metrics as they assess the actions and reactions of each individual during group trainings, and then using that specific and specialised data you can programme and prepare the next training session accordingly.
What technology are you focusing on at the moment?
At the moment our focus is on increasing our market share in the chosen fields of AI and AR/VR simulation including training for oil and gas companies. These solutions apart from increasing the product quality can help in asset integrity, and consequently reduce downtime, etc.
How are these solutions being received by the market?
As mentioned earlier, we are already providing these solutions to a couple of refineries in Asia. Companies have long realised that artificial intelligence is crucial to retaining leadership. We are in advanced stages of discussions with two large oil and gas companies in this regard. We are looking at further development of a specialised software which works in tandem with the VR. We provide a software for VR training and are looking to upgrade to other software that is more specialised for different oil and gas scenarios.