Predicting failures around critical assets has significantly reduced unplanned shutdowns and increased the lifecycle of critical assets.

Tariq ASLAM Vice-President and Head of MEA ASPENTECH

Drivers of digital transformation

June 7, 2021

Tariq Aslam, the head of MEA for AVEVA, talks to The Energy Year about the benefits for businesses of having unified visibility of their operations and how the company’s AI solutions can reduce unplanned shutdowns. AVEVA is a global provider of industrial software and services.

What has been the role of AVEVA’s Unified Operations Center in enabling ADNOC to achieve operational excellence and increase profitability?
If we look at unified operations centres in the context of the oil and gas sector, we find many assets spread around various geographical locations, including IT and administration systems. It had not been possible until the unified operations centre concept came about to bring these pieces together and give an organisation a unified view of their business.
Normally, the business and IT applications only give a self-referencing view. However, in the oil and gas sector, the resources and assets that are generating revenue for the company are equally important. All those operational assets need to be made visible in the business context to make the right decisions. We have been very successful in providing these unified operations centres.
Regarding ADNOC, we have worked with them over the past few years. They have 14 different sites with 200,000-plus touch points that they wanted to bring into a single environment. There were 120 dashboards incorporated [in the Panorama Digital Command Centre], helping to provide them visibility of their operations. It is a 360-degree view of their business in real time, so they can make decisions.
Business owners are required to make decisions at the right time based on information, but what happens when things go wrong? It takes a lot of time and investment to discover the source of the problem. That discovery can take days to months and costs a lot of money.
Thanks to our Unified Operations Center, ADNOC has been able to have all of that in one place, reducing the diagnostic time and hence saving a lot of money. ADNOC is saving roughly USD 60 million-100 million every time they have a scenario against which they need to do discovery, diagnostics and optimisation.

With automation at the forefront of efficiency in the industry, what other emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning is AVEVA working on?
A large number of companies are focusing on how to drive the digital transformation in order to drive better efficiencies. Digital transformation, however, is a very generic phrase. It includes everything from business to IT to OT. But what are the tangible things that you can do?
The tangible thing for oil and gas, with return on investment in a matter of days or weeks, is reducing or eliminating unplanned shutdowns. In this industry, you have a very high value of assets. These assets can reach USD 5 million for a single pump, for example.
AVEVA is very much the market leader in providing solutions to use artificial intelligence to do predictive maintenance, predicting failures before they happen. That immediately ensures the health of the assets is intact, then the cost of maintenance goes down and you can start predicting the future. But the bigger benefit comes in preventing unplanned shutdowns.
Industry figures indicate that in oil and gas, 80% of shutdowns are still unplanned. When you have an unplanned shutdown and the barrel of oil is at USD 50, for national oil companies like ADNOC producing over 3 million bopd, the per-day impact of these unplanned shutdowns is huge. At AVEVA, we have proven that predicting failures around critical assets has significantly reduced unplanned shutdowns and increased the lifecycle of critical assets.


What key applications are gaining momentum now and what is AVEVA’s competitive advantage?
We have an advantage compared to other players. Our application Prism not only helps to predict whether particular equipment or assets have a risk of failure or require attention, but can also do a prescription. It provides prescriptive predictive analytics.
If something is going wrong, you want to know what you can do to fix the problem. Prism provides that option. It can tell you if something needs to be fine-tuned, or whether a vibration level needs to be examined to help stabilise the equipment. We are the only one in the industry to provide a comprehensive portfolio for this service.
Looking at the big picture, a potential critical failure would, first of all, come up in your Unified Operations Center, indicating production may be impacted unless something is done within a certain amount of time. Our solutions will let you know what you have to do in order to fix that component. Not only that, the Unified Operations Center will also identify if such a component has critical reliance on other equipment, another part of the system, which they did not consider.

Can the solutions you’ve described be implemented at different stages of generation and production of energy from sources such as nuclear and renewables?
Yes, they can be implemented in generation, production and distribution. We are in discussion with some key customers in the nuclear sector. Some are already using our technologies, and we are also looking into how to bring the digital transformation to the nuclear environment in the UAE.
The nuclear energy industry is heavily regulated. Our digital twin solutions not only do the impact analysis I mentioned, but will help operators with their regulatory compliance. How do you demonstrate that the plants and operations you are running comply with the regulatory requirements? Here comes the digital twin. First of all, you demonstrate to them which part of the system is complying with each regulation and compare which processes are being executed against those you are ordered to comply with.
Moreover, we are also increasing our presence in the solar energy sector. When running an operation in a solar plant, there are similar scenarios where you want to remotely monitor any alarms related to the status and capacity of each of the turbines or solar panels. Our technology is used across all of those. In the Middle East, we are positioning and offering our capabilities to these subsectors.

What are the objectives set out by AVEVA going forward?
It is a very exciting time for the industry. Of course, it has been a challenging time due to Covid-19. But the need for digital transformation has been more pronounced than ever. One of those elements is the ability to have remote access, to do things on the fly and not necessarily have to be present then and there. The digital twin becomes extremely important. Predicting the future using AI is a key driver of the digital transformation of the present and future.
These initiatives in isolation will drive benefits. But if you are unable to integrate that into the overall value chain of your business, you will lose some of the benefits because each digital initiative does not integrate with the others. There is no one better than AVEVA from a generation, design, operations and maintenance perspective to be able to bring this together.

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