With the recent enforced isolation, I have found myself reflecting a little more than usual! Away from the daily challenge of operationalising our support I have been considering the broader implications we face in trying to adopt these technologies in our projects and encourage customers to implement new equipment and ideas. In some ways, this world changing ] Covid-19 impact is accelerating the use of technology in field services for operators maintaining vital assets that not only help power society but keep it safe.
In many respects the challenge is the same as it has always been, the twin spectres of compelling events to overcome resistance to change and the education to overcome the resistance are key drivers. Where tech providers simply aim to sell their technology into a client business, the connection between adoption and success remains fractured, if it was ever made in the first place.
The collaboration between technology companies such as Microsoft, Honeywell, Aspentec, Aveva and Hexagon (for example) and the engineering and operating expertise from Wood is key to unlocking the potential of technology to help solve client’s challenges such as: “How do I maintain mission critical assets remotely now that flights have stopped and expertise on the ground is limited and scarce?”.
Overcoming these barriers is of course the real crux. Technologies have reduced part of the change/education issue; by becoming more commonplace in our lives we have gradually become more accepting of the intrusion from these new devices and more accustomed to their presence, and as the hardware and software systems evolve and integrate more seamlessly they become more intuitive to use.
Despite these barriers lowering, the challenge is more considerable when you apply these technologies to complex assets. The concept might be similar to the monitoring and control of your central heating at home, but a chemical refinery is more like 300 central heating systems, of different types, interconnected, upgraded at different times and with a raft of different service intervals and operational needs. With each refinery being unique how do you set things up to make the right decisions and prioritise work? In this scenario, technology is only half the answer, for many assets the data is already there in mind boggling volumes so, the real focus has to lie in interpretation and analysis, presenting the data in a way that helps customers make informed and actionable decisions about the operation of their assets in line with business goals.
This is where experience and asset familiarity pay as Wood’s mission is not just about performing for clients but helping our technology partners optimise their performance as well providing a synced execution. Systems integration is the business of connecting client challenges with enabling technology tuned to achieve the desired outcomes, helping to bridge the gap and allowing innovation to accelerate performance.
One such usage of technology is connecting site personnel to remote engineering expertise in real-time. Within the energy and built environment sectors, workers are often placed in high-risk, remote settings. With connected devices, these sites can be made safer, while increasing productivity.
This must be done as independently as possible; so many of the assets we support are unique and although bespoke systems are not ideal, we need to take an impartial view and recommend the most appropriate solution. We can advise you what to implement, but more importantly we’ll help you do it, train your teams and optimise the systems so you get maximum benefit from the upgrades. Reach out to us here to know more.
Chief Technology Officer