Digital Solutions can Squeeze More Out of AssetsWed, 03/07/2018 - 15:58
In an industry like oil and gas where components can run into the millions of dollars, it is no surprise that the industry is looking at ways to save on these costs, especially given low oil prices. Jesús Pacheco, Executive Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Siemens' Dresser-Rand business, says Mexico has an opportunity to boost its industry without making big expenditures: “Although there are many assets that need to be replaced, it is critical that companies understand the benefits of introducing digital solutions to get the greatest value out of installed assets and improve their reliability and performance.”
Considering the wide array of opportunities that the Mexican hydrocarbons industry has to offer, Pacheco says that, although many power solutions focus on areas where no infrastructure is present, the solutions offered by Siemens’ digitalization portfolio can become especially useful at existing but outdated infrastructure to increase efficiency with relatively simple measures.
According to Pacheco, by installing sensors and employing the right partner to manage the information generated, companies can obtain sizeable benefits with relatively small capital expenditures, especially compared with installation of new assets. “It is much easier and economical to install or replace sensors than complete assets,” he says. “But once data have been gathered, that data must be managed and analyzed. It is critical to have a reliable partner that facilitates the process of companies visualizing their assets, evaluating their condition and providing insights from the data to help management decide how to make better use of them.”
As for the installation of new assets, Pacheco emphasizes the benefits of including digitalization from the very beginning of a project. “Digitalization allows companies to select, configure and simulate how the assets will perform before even manufacturing them.” Among the solutions that Siemens has developed, Pacheco highlights its Topside 4.0 concept. “Topside 4.0 involves the digitalization of the complete life cycle of a topside offshore project,” he says. “It is designed to provide a link between the design tools and the optimization tools.” Among the most important concepts of Topside 4.0, he says, is digital twins, which are created to replicate a real asset. This twin can simulate how the asset will work and behave under certain scenarios and how it will interact with the entire facility. “We can create a digital twin for a compressor in just a couple of hours,” he says. “These twins can also be used to train personnel, allowing them to interact with the twin under different simulated working conditions.” By doing so, Pacheco adds, CAPEX and OPEX can be optimized through simulations prior to building and without the need to undergo iterative improvement cycles that often waste capital. “This approach saves significant costs, particularly for larger and more expensive projects.”
The costs of downtime in the oil and gas industry are high, so it needs reliable, cost-effective and uninterrupted power for all its activities. With that in mind, Pacheco says it is important to have a reliable partner. “Our hardware and software solutions will enable the dramatic change in cost structures that the Mexican industry really needs,” he says. “That is what we bring to Mexico, to PEMEX and to all the new companies in the industry.”
While digitalization provides benefits, Pacheco says that the biggest challenge in selling the Dresser-Rand business' solutions is cultural. Shifting company culture not only improves the chances of selling equipment but also provides better solutions to the client, Pacheco says. “Digitalization works on the premise that all parties are working together to create a solution. While pre-packaged algorithms exist and work to some extent, tailor-made solutions ensure clients get the greatest benefit, ultimately ensuring all parties have a sense of partnership regarding individual roles and activities.”
In terms of creating a new culture in the traditionally conservative Mexican oil and gas industry, Pacheco believes the government can also play a role. “The government has to work on becoming a catalyst to enable and encourage partnerships with international companies.” He says there is still work to be done to bring Mexican culture up to par with global standards. “PEMEX has to reinforce the fact that the old days are gone and that the power of digitalization is the future.”