Contextualised data for better insightsJune 1, 2020
The Energy Year talks to Thony Brito Cardier, regional sales manager for Sensia, about key drivers behind industry automation and why the company expects to remain competitive in a difficult market. Formed in 2019 as a joint venture between Rockwell Automation and Schlumberger, Sensia provides integrated digital oilfield automation solutions.
How well prepared are ADNOC and the UAE to emerge from this crisis stronger?
One reason the UAE is so well prepared is that it is embarking on this new vision of Industry 4.0 to embrace digitalisation and new technologies and to identify the best technology companies and suppliers. What ADNOC has been doing in the past 10 years is amazing, and the group is very competitive in all its operations. I am sure they will be able to handle this and uncover many opportunities to improve and become as lean as possible.
How is Sensia positioned to compete?
Rockwell Automation has collaborated with Schlumberger for many years, and as Sensia, we’ve managed to achieve some nice synergies in projects in terms of instrumentation and control parts that we brought into the market from Rockwell Automation and the deep petro-technical expertise embedded in systems and software from Schlumberger.
This allows us to put the right-quality data and information into clients’ hands, already processed. It is not just simple data points we provide; it is contextualised data. Everyone can provide data, but not everyone can give insights about what is happening in your well and pipeline or in your production facility.
Thanks to this collaboration, decisions are faster, taking good advantage of our resources, and we can remotely control the devices enabling operators to respond faster while reducing the frequency of field interventions. We send people into the field only when needed, which means less exposure and more safety.
Will the merger of oilfield services giants into a full-stream digital company allow firms like Sensia to offer better rates?
From a competitive point of view, operators are pushing us to be efficient and give better prices. Squeezing in more price reductions is nothing new; it was already happening before Covid-19 and the oil price crash. We were already driven to be efficient and cost effective. In terms of efficiencies in execution, there are always ways to improve and that is a continuous process.
I don’t think the situation will lead to a drastic price reduction in terms of products and services, but it is rather an issue for the oil and gas producers’ revenue. They will need to manage how to place their products and be more efficient and do the best with the revenue stream that they are generating.
Have your expansion plans been affected by the Covid-19 situation?
Our management has been very aggressive. We would like to continue providing value to customers. We know these are tough times, and Sensia offers a technology platform that will allow customers to better manage their operations. They can leverage our products, automation, remote surveillance and analytics, as well as the technologies of our parent companies. We try to create the kind of familiarity and presence in the market that generate awareness on how to overcome these challenges.
I think one of our main roles will be to help customers to uncover more hidden opportunities and find new efficiencies. That translates into helping them to unify the information platforms more and more, to achieve the mindset needed to find data of different natures on platforms within the organisation and then unify them.
You have multiple assets in multiple operations. Asset A might be reporting differently than asset B. You can try to reconcile this set of data, and then find some truth in the information that you aggregate; however, by the time you find this information, it might be too late for action to be taken, so you lose value. We provide the opportunity to unify and capture information across company’s assets and focus on what is important.
What do your automation and digitalisation solutions offer?
Digitalisation is no longer an option; it is a must. You need to bring all these forms of collaboration and make the resources work better and faster, wherever they are located – even if they are at home or in the offices. You need an environment that allows them to exploit information and data and look for insights. Sensia, for example, has platforms that will allow you to not only integrate all these data, but also provide embedded intelligence in these solutions.
Let’s say, for instance, that you have a field with 500 ESPs [electric submersible pumps]. Our machine will allow you to acquire data in real time. It will analyse the data that comes in, tell you what might be happening at your pumps and on top of that tell you the prioritisation. It identifies which field and which pumps should be working now, and what your people should be doing later. For example, it may tell you that a certain pump is going to stop, so you can send your people to work on it immediately.
All this is enabled by machine learning, and that is available today both in the cloud and on premises. This is how we believe we can help, by providing smarter tools with embedded intelligence.
What will be the key drivers for industry automation going forward?
In the case of Rockwell Automation, we embarked on this digitalisation journey a few years ago and now as Sensia we are continuing that journey with Schlumberger. As we went through the development of those applications, we found that there is always room for improvement, and there are customers with new needs. So, I think what’s coming is more digitalisation and more leveraging of technology.
Since the crisis of 2008, all of the operators have become very cost conscious and have forced technology suppliers to be innovative and leaner in terms of what we supply. What’s coming is a very strong drive for efficiency. Because there are so many technologies right now in the production domain, new competitors in production will emerge and there will be a strong fight for markets.
Companies need to be more efficient, reduce the cost of operations and be as lean as possible. To do so, they will look at tools for better means of production and distribution and look at the digitalisation of operations.