Oilfield services giant Schlumberger is known for its groundbreaking use of technology in the offshore energy sector. From well design and engineering to drilling asset management services, the company is committed to using innovative technology to unlock access to energy “for the benefit of all.” Among the technology it leverages are voice-controlled assisted reality devices, which allow oil and gas workers to get the right information at the right time—a critical factor when it comes to managing and maintaining the high-value assets in the oil and gas industry.
“I almost think of this as hands-free YouTube,” says David Redding, Digital Innovation Manager at Schlumberger. “The guys are actually able to watch a video of building something, whether it’s manufacturing or maintenance, and they can see that real-time on the device, completely hands-free. From the maintenance side, we saw a 33% efficiency gain.”
Across the oil and gas ecosystem, from onshore and offshore drilling to transportation of hydrocarbons and the refinement of petroleum-based products, assets have high capital costs and high costs of running. With an estimated $3.4 trillion asset base and facilities that are growing in size and scale, asset management and maintenance is becoming more complex. As a result, the industry is increasingly leveraging assisted reality to create, operate, maintain and decommission assets in a cost-effective way.
“Modern oil and gas facilities are being set up on a larger scale than before, having higher production and storage capacities, to insulate them from market volatility and improve long-term profitability,” says Ravindra Puranik, oil and gas analyst at GlobalData. “A well-designed asset management plan becomes even more important for projects such as these … [to] help reduce equipment downtime, inventory control, resource management, save costs, and meet legal and regulatory compliances.”
How the Industry is Leveraging Assisted Reality to Protect Its Assets
Assisted reality devices work hand-in-hand with asset management and maintenance software to keep pumps, heating elements, flow control valves and more up and running. They’re enabling oil and gas leaders to perform asset management and maintenance in a way that:
- Increases accuracy and data integrity: From mechanical and process technicians to job planners, assisted reality solutions provide hands-free, real-time access to current work orders, digital workflows, engineering documentation, maintenance history and key asset performance data. Step-by-step instructions, safety documentation and best practices enable technicians to perform maintenance and repairs.
- Boosts efficiency: Assisted reality solutions enable teams to digitize and optimize formerly manual processes and streamline work orders. Workers can inspect equipment, identify an issue, create a report, speak text to add additional detail to the report and even capture a photo and attach it to the work order seamlessly—all hands-free. Improved digital workflows maximize technicians’ “time on tool,” ultimately driving improvement in key metrics like overall reliability and mean time to repair.
- Improves safety: With oil and gas operations often taking place in hazardous environments, ruggedized assisted reality solutions that have been purpose-built with the unique safety requirements of the industry in mind give workers hands-free access to information and remote experts while maintaining situational awareness.
- Facilitates regulatory compliance: Increased visibility into facility and equipment conditions drives preventative actions and improves traceability for auditing and regulatory purposes.
Three Important Tips to Start Your Journey With Assisted Reality
Here’s what you need to keep in mind before deploying assisted reality across your organization:
- Leverage systems integrators: Any time you are introducing technology into an existing IT environment, there are going to be some challenges or complexities to address, and solutions like assisted reality, which connect to other IoT applications, are no exception. A systems integrator can help simplify your tech environment in a way that speeds progress toward your business goals. If you’re considering a systems integrator for a smoother deployment, look for a partner who has experience with assisted reality or other Extended Reality (XR) technologies. You’ll also want to ensure that their knowledge and expertise goes beyond the technical to also include your business environment and that your partnership includes knowledge transfer, so your teams can maintain your IT systems long after the engagement ends.
- Go beyond traditional change management considerations: Change is often met with resistance, so it’s important to ensure that you are building in enough time and the right kind of processes to smooth adoption. When it comes to technology like wearables, researchers have found that change management programs must go beyond training to also anticipate and address employee concerns over privacy and data usage. Develop messaging that that makes it clear what type of data you are capturing—and aren’t capturing—from workers who are wearing hands-free devices and how that data will be used.
“Delivering a clear communication of the purpose and scope of wearable deployment early, i.e. well before the devices hit the floor, is important for assuaging employee concerns,” says David Schatsky, a researcher and managing director at Deloitte. “Closely engaging employee representatives and influencers can prove effective in this effort.”
- Cultivate evangelists for the new technology and processes: Building momentum for change starts with your vision for how assisted reality will not only transform your organization but also affect the day-to-day tasks employees perform related to asset management and maintenance. Involve frontline workers as you craft that vision to help ensure buy-in, then leverage those employees as evangelists who can help you identify areas that need improvement and champion the new ways of working throughout the organization.
Learn more about how to create a successful strategy for deploying assisted reality—and a greater understanding of the benefits assisted reality is delivering across the oil and gas industry—in our white paper, “How Oil and Gas Leaders Are Leveraging XR Technologies.”