How IoT Continues to Modernizing the Oil and Gas Industry
Last year, we reported on some of the new and exciting IoT-based opportunities that have come about in the oil and gas industry. While 2020 did not go as expected, many of our trend predictions remained true. Over the last year, we have seen many changes in the solution delivery channel, ultimately leading to new opportunities for VARs, ISVs, and those in the agent community. As we look ahead to 2021, these opportunities will continue to grow and expand their role in the oil and gas industry, making some of the most isolated sites in the world safer for workers and decreasing the likelihood of environmental disasters.
Oil rigs are profoundly critical to supplying the world with fuel to power our homes and businesses. Because of the extreme value that this industry holds, as well as the dangerous nature of the mining process, safety will continue to remain a top priority. Some of the newest IoT sensor solutions available today offer automatic situational awareness for dangerous operating environments, including oil and gas rigs, and even some of the world’s longest pipelines. Equipped with smart sensors, endpoints and radios, these devices can monitor for changes in temperature, light, air pressure and humidity, as well as detect unsafe levels of gases such as carbon monoxide or oxygen. These alerts can notify workers in real-time of unsafe conditions, allowing them the opportunity to make adjustments or evacuate to safety. These same IoT solutions can help prevent pipeline leakage by constantly monitoring the system and alerting personnel of irregularities or interruptions, saving both environmental and reputational damage. By leveraging a security system that monitors for any risk to the employees and the structure, all parties feel more confident in this already dangerous task, now that these solutions have minimized as many risks as possible.
Just as a hospital would have a backup generator to support its critical operations and services, oil rigs, pipelines, and major industrial worksites require reliable internet connectivity to maintain safety standards. As beneficial as IoT devices can be, they require three things to function: strong internet connection, software to process their data, and plenty of storage. That’s why off-site data centers are so critical for the industry. These centers can exist anywhere in the world, while also keeping information safely and securely stored. Additionally, LTE failovers ensure that critical systems are always connected to the 4G/LTE mobile broadband network, ensuring that the rig’s IoT solutions continue to operate even if the rig loses access to its primary connection of internet. LTE failovers can also ensure that workers situated on the rigs maintain lines of communication with employees and/or safety personnel off-site. As we draw nearer to prevalent 5G, the bandwidth is going to be available to deploy richer IoT solutions. Providing quicker response, better monitoring, text messaging, GPS, audible warnings and more, these sensors provide a comprehensive level of operational awareness.
The rising prominence of IoT on oil and gas rigs continues to allow for greater analytical capabilities, leading to increased operational efficiency and production. For example, these solutions may immediately flag that a piece of equipment is operating at a reduced capacity due to a mechanical malfunction. Historically, this would cost a company a significant amount of time and money until the issue was detected by a worker or engineer. However, by leveraging IoT solutions that can pinpoint the problematic equipment in real-time, workers are able to address any concerns faster than ever before.
In an industry with so much at stake, companies owe it to their workers, the public and the environment to ensure they’ve implemented the necessary technology to combat the many risks they face on a regular basis. Keeping in mind that oil spills have proven devastating for those affected, a relatively small investment today may save numerous lives and billions of dollars tomorrow. Not only will the incorporation and continued advancement of IoT keep everyone safer, but operations will run in a well-ordered fashion and at a higher capacity. Be sure to speak to your ScanSource representative about how your business can start providing solutions within this vertical.