Capturing powerful efficiencies and ensuring compliance lies within Intelligent Operations

IIoT, digital substation, data, IOT asset management, field operations

By Albert Nel, Vice President APAC at OpenText

The recent fluctuations in oil and gas prices combined with the challenges surrounding the impacts of COVID-19 have accelerated discussions and implementation of operating models within the global energy sector. On a consumer level, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people unaware of these impacts on essential services. For many of us, it’s a given that when we flick on a light switch, the lights turn on, however, we rarely consider the people behind the power generation that keep the lights running.

During the height of the pandemic with uncertainty at its peak, the energy industry continued to provide uninterrupted service to millions of customers while managing generation and operating risk. Operating and support staff had to rapidly adjust to a different or sometimes a completely new way of working, because they could no longer meet and collaborate in person as before.

Operations and maintenance workers as well as engineers were regularly asked to travel to power plants and technicians were tasked to address vital infrastructure repairs. The pandemic has forced power and utility companies to embrace technology, truly value content and data to ensure generation demand is met, while maximising safety and compliance to state and local regulations, and the safety of employees and the community at large. The available technologies that provide protection to workers, through the reduced time they need to spend on-site or in the office, makes data and information the lifeblood of energy providers. Nevertheless, with organisations having so much of it, making sense, and deriving actionable insights can be a tough task, especially if it has become siloed over time.

Improving efficiencies with ECM

One way to address these concerns and drive efficiency improvement is to adopt an Intelligent Operations approach. This includes utilising an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform to allow engineers, operational leaders, functional stakeholders–including legal, corporate affairs, maintenance, and customer service–to be more productive. Effective ECM solutions streamline processes by making data more accessible to workers whether they’re in the office or on-site. Using IoT devices such as tablets or smartphones, field engineers can access critical content through the cloud. This ability to access, analyse and update information in real-time on-site means they never have to worry about outdated data or misleading insights, which in the long run will save the organisation money as maintenance and repair decisions will be based off real-time information, rather than retrospective data.

Improved information management means reduced risk and safety

Enabling anytime anywhere accessibility also helps organisations to improve compliance as workers can access the latest documents advising of industry and safety regulations and corporate specifications, when needed.

Maintaining a governed system of record on an enterprise level is challenging but mandatory for any operating company regardless of industry. Content such as standard operating procedures, regulations, detailed engineering drawings and project material are being updated on a regular basis. These documents play an important role in ensuring the design and operation of the plant or infrastructure (gas, water or electric network) is compliant and safe. This is where implementing an Intelligent Operations approach becomes so vital. Granting engineers access to these documents and sending update notifications means they will always be reviewing the latest documentation content within the confines of the most up-to-date industry regulations, which is critical given the stringent nature of the industry’s regulatory framework.

Delivering high value

Utilising an ECM system which can securely deliver standard operating procedures (SOPs) and drawings to an engineer’s phone will increase efficiency with instant access to the latest updates. Technological advancements are developing further making it the right time for energy organisations to focus on evolving their key business activities and managing risk.

The key to generating greater efficiency within the energy sector lies in adopting an Intelligent Operations approach. This will allow its technicians and engineers to address challenges head on to ensure continuity of supply, benefiting functional stakeholders, customers, and maintenance workers. Executing large engineering projects and operating assets without effective engineering and asset information management in place, can result in significant risk to scope, schedule, cost, and non-compliance. ECM provides energy providers with a competitive edge in the market allowing them to infuse operational excellence into every aspect of their business.