beyond scada #3An evolutionary approach to operational excellence on oil and gas industries requires a real-time approach often characterized as “monitor, analyze, act.”

In our last post, we discussed how companies can more accurately calculate the probability of an asset failure, meaning they can safely postpone maintenance or replacement until there’s a real need backed up by data. Predictive maintenance like this requires collecting and analyzing data from many sources, and often needs to be processed at source – i.e. on the edge.

Here are some of the specific characteristics of systems that can deliver these capabilities:

  • Big Data. Moving to a higher level of operational excellence means acquiring substantially more data. The proliferation of sensors needed to gather it will create challenges on a scale that can’t be handled by conventional data warehouses.
  • Disparate data. To be a practical success, a successful solution must be able to ingest data streams from multiple sources so SCADA and IoT can efficiently co-exist.
  • Real-time processing. Batch processing of historical data is not adequate. The solution must be able to deliver rapid analysis on large volumes of streaming events, with an event-driven architecture that can respond to problems before they cause trouble.
  • Edge processing. The old SCADA architecture in which sensor data is sent to a central repository for analysis is not adequate for the huge amounts of data the IoT revolution will produce. Edge processing to filter and categorize data is essential.
  • Intuitive presentation. The solution should include visually-oriented dashboards for end users so they can make sense of and act on the plethora of data available.
  • Cloud-based implementation. To minimize cost and eliminate complexity, the solution should be based in the cloud.
  • Development tools. To maintain high value over time, the solution must include tools for both data scientists and developers that enable quick, hassle-free deployment of new capabilities. This is an extremely important component of the total solution. Without such tools, organizations will soon find themselves stuck in the past.

IoT-Enhanced Solutions in Action

The list of potential use cases for IoT-enhanced solutions in the oil and gas industry is long and varied. Upstream production implementations in “smart oil fields” reduce downtime as well as operating costs. IoT solutions also enable far richer and less expensive data communication with offshore rigs.

In refineries, IoT solutions support asset optimization and prevent unplanned shutdowns. In the areas of transportation, distribution and storage, the increased use of remote sensors reduces the need for manual inspection and enables up-to-the-minute information about flow rates and the potential for leaks. All in all, benefits include increased production, lower capital costs and lower operating costs.

In the electric utilities sector, the IoT use case receiving the most attention is smart meters, but IoT will also play a central role in real-time demand response management, where two-way communication between commercial buildings and utilities is a win-win proposition, reducing customer electricity bills and taking pressure off utilities during times of peak demand.

These use cases, which take advantage of sophisticated IoT sensors combined with predictive analytics platforms, have already demonstrated the ability of IoT technology to generate attractive ROI.

There is little doubt that new uses that are equally exciting will emerge in the not-too-distant future. Go beyond SCADA; Software AG and Cumulocity IoT will show you how.

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