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Alan Kay, one of the world’s top computer science pioneers once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” For manufacturing, transportation, and oil and gas organizations, having solutions that allow them to characterize assets, environments, processes and the people operating these assets helps them predict issues and prevent downtime.
While lowering maintenance costs is a key issue for oil and gas companies, operational inefficiencies account for approximately 30% of the industry’s cost structure. This can be caused by aging critical equipment, a mix of disparate applications throughout the production landscape and other issues that contribute to a lack of visibility and inefficient operations. Gaining visibility into these asset-intensive environments has become a top-level management concern.
In the U.S., the vision of oil independence is driven by the shale oil and gas industry. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that about 15.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas came from shale resources in 2016. Currently, there are more than two million oil and gas wells in North America, 60% of which extract natural gas and send it to a compressor. Once the gas hits the compressor skid, a series of operations occur, including a multi-phase compression process that includes iterative scrubbing, cooling and increasing pressure before it travels through a pipeline to its destination.
While the compressors are an essential step in the gas transmission process, most of these compressor skids are expensive and time consuming to maintain – and provide little data vital to delivering insights that would predict and improve. Without the ability to pinpoint the cause of unplanned downtime, workers are forced to react to compressor issues by searching for the cause of problems and having them repaired. To give some context, 1% downtime of a single compressor package can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in gas production losses over a three-year life of contract. Moreover, these operations require years of experience to overcome challenges such as managing stringent service level agreements (SLAs) for high mechanical availability that increase the cost of operations.
In addition, oil and gas operators must maintain compliance with state and Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) regulations – all while working with these compressors at sites that are often in hard-to-reach, remote locations. As a result, oil and gas producers are turning to contractors offering compression as a service to help solve asset management and maintenance issues and deliver new levels of intelligence that can improve operations.
Hitachi is working with shale oil producers and service providers in the U.S. to develop more effective and sustainable drilling and transmission operations. To help oil and gas producers and service providers monitor asset-intensive environments, Hitachi is developing a proof of concept for an internet of things (IoT) solution for Real-Time Machine Event Analytics (Hitachi IoT solution). The Hitachi IoT solution allows operators and service providers to remotely monitor and manage natural gas compressor skids to detect compressor shutdowns, maintain operational efficiencies, predict failures and provide multi-compressor analysis.
Designed to monitor, analyze and report on key performance indicators (KPIs) based on compressor runtimes, performance, reliability and costs, the Hitachi IoT solution integrates the entire natural gas production service provider ecosystem. This ecosystem includes oil and gas operators, compression service providers, data acquisition services providers, mid-stream producers, inspection service providers and regulatory agencies.
The solution leverages the Hitachi Live Insights for Oilfield Operations (HILIOO) platform, which is customized to meet the gas compression and transmission industry’s data security and integration requirements. Using the Hitachi IoT solution, data from the gas compression and transmission ecosystem can be ingested into the HILIOO platform, which provides capabilities to perform descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.
The Hitachi IoT solution also uses micro apps tailored to specific use cases. For example, a fleet-monitoring micro app provides an interactive, map-based spatial-temporal view of all assets in the fleet and indicates each asset’s current condition (running, failure, start, waiting). Micro apps can focus on KPIs and key risk indicators, asset similarity, multi-event prediction, failure prediction, cost insights and more. Micro apps also provide an easy way to look up an asset’s meta information (site name, location, deployment status).
By enabling real-time, remote monitoring of various components such as compressors, engines, and skids, the Hitachi IoT solution allows operators to determine how much time each asset is up and running in a month. It also allows operators to understand emission levels to meet compliance requirements and gain visibility into occupational hazards to reduce escalating health, safety and environmental (HSE) incidents. Equally important, the IoT solution helps companies optimize asset utilization, getting the most from their investment.
Let’s look more closely at the Hitachi IoT solution in action: When an oil and gas producer extracts natural gas from a well, the gas flows to a fleet of compressors, where it is channeled through various compressor subsystems. The IoT solution dashboard displays these subsystems and identifies where a failure has occurred and where a future failure is most likely to occur.
Providing operators with a data history for all the compressors helps them identify which compressors fail the most. Operators use this information to assign metrics to the compressors based on similar health data and predict how each asset will perform in the future. By continuing to build data-driven insights, the solution helps operators predict how a compressor will perform one, two or even three days ahead, allowing teams to order parts and schedule predictive maintenance. This saves time and money.
Although the Hitachi IoT solution for Real-Time Machine Event Analytics is still being tested in real-world environments, it has the potential to maximize asset-intensive environments for industries beyond oil and gas by providing a platform for building micro apps that apply core solutions to unique applications. For example, it could be used to monitor and manage pumps, injection devices and other equipment at chemical companies or manufacturing facilities.
While no one can accurately predict the future, Hitachi is working hard to invent it. Our IoT solution is helping natural gas providers deliver more sustainable production and transmission, while reducing emissions and waste, and improving safety conditions.
Hitachi builds compressors and other assets used by leading companies around the world — and we develop the systems to collect and analyze the data from these assets. With a rich heritage of innovation, Hitachi collaborates with partners and customers to co-create solutions that improve operational efficiency and increase sustainable practices that support a safe and healthy society.