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Business transformation through remote collaboration, optimisation and operations

 A remote collaboration, optimisation and operations solution can help industrial organisations manage critical assets, regardless of their physical location
 In industries such as oil and gas, mining, metals, and minerals, operating companies typically have multiple production facilities, spreading over the distances. As a result, expertise and best practices can be difficult to share and institutionalise across locations. Optimal production and productivity are hard enough to achieve on a single asset level, but interdependencies between processes and facilities complicate things even further. Industrial organisations require new thinking in order to operate effectively in an increasingly complex, distributed environment.
In the upstream oil and gas industry, changing market conditions require more flexibility and efficiency in the production of natural gas and oil. Increased operational costs, combined with instability in the price of crude oil in the international market, make it essential to lower operating expenses while improving production levels. In addition, offshore operators seek to improve safety by limiting helicopter flights and boat trips to remote facilities, and by reducing the number of people onboard platforms.
 In the mining, metals and minerals industry, companies producing aluminium, iron and steel, and precious metals must improve product quality and production efficiency while lowering the consumption of energy and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Mining operations also need solutions that help connect and integrate disparate systems that work in isolation. New mineral supplies are increasingly found in inhospitable areas of the world.
 To enhance operations, it is necessary to connect the production and enterprise levels and ensure the availability of real-time information across multiple sites. This, in turn, will enhance operational data management — enabling improved asset performance. Additionally, making operational data available to the enterprise allows this information to be merged with other key data.
Today’s challengesNow, more than ever, operating companies seek to maximise the recovery of resources such as mineral deposits and oil reservoirs as supplies are declining in many areas. And they must constantly optimise production as profit margins are compressed and global competition intensifies. Stringent process safety measures, cyber-security standards, and environmental regulations further complicate operational strategies.
Production sites in remote locations present a variety of safety concerns, either in the hazardous environment of the operating facility itself (underground with risk of earthquakes, high altitudes, offshore with risk of hurricanes) or associated with transportation to these facilities (helicopter trips or long car trips over bad roads).
Issues related to staffing also burden company management. With operations situated in remote areas, it is difficult and costly to attract and retain a talented workforce. This leads to a high degree of staff turnover, which subsequently creates a hardship in training new resources. Moreover, in many disciplines, an aging workforce shrinks the available talent pool even further, and makes the need to leverage expertise more acute.
Transformative business strategyThe level of business transformation associated with the implementation of a remote collaboration, optimisation and operations strategy cannot be achieved by technology investments alone. Rather, this is a big change for industrial organisations that goes to the core of their operations. To ensure success, they need to take into account the following key elements
•  Vision: The overall strategy for a remote initiative must be aligned at the highest level of the organisation in order to enable a cohesive change• People: As personnel and their roles are redistributed, care needs to be given to the human element and appropriate change management must be adopted• Processes: Organisations must have a keen appreciation of roles at the task and re-associate them to work processes to ensure continuity in operations• Technology and services: Organisations must understand that this approach goes beyond the traditional automation.
 Remote operations establishes a base for improved monitoring and management of oil and gas installations, pipelines, mines, production sites, compressor stations etc. It involves deploying communication systems and other enabling technology to provide monitoring and surveillance services for remote facilities, thus reducing the number of site visits and onsite personnel required for these locations.
A centralised remote collaboration centre makes the best use of resources by creating an operations hub where experts from a variety of disciplines can access information, troubleshoot and optimise production facilities — all from a single location. Control system and software upgrades can also be implemented via remote access technology. Remote maintenance and upgrades where physical devices are involved can be accomplished using both mobile, field-deployable cameras and onsite operators (Fig. 2).
A comprehensive solutionAn effective remote collaboration, optimisation and operations solution delivers superior business results by using game — changing technology, procedures and empowered people. It has the potential to eliminate the time, distance, and organisational constraints that plague traditional approaches while providing all parties with a single version of the truth. Knowledge and understanding empower workers, enabling operating companies to respond better to dynamic environments and work processes to be more flexible — facilitating a higher level of engagement.
However, industrial organisations need to focus on operations and cannot dedicate internal resources to such an undertaking. While traditional control and instrumentation vendors, IT suppliers, telecom developers and consulting firms offer the individual components needed as part of this strategy, they are unable to provide all the capabilities to meet the customers’ end-to-end requirements.
A comprehensive yet modular solution encompassing remote collaboration, optimisation and operations are the need of the hour. This strategy will deliver an increasing level of value (also involve an increasing degree of organisational change) as it progresses from the collaboration phase to the optimisation phase, ultimately enabling secure and efficient operation of remote production sites.
Such a solution is best delivered through a consultative approach, where an organisation works with a technology partner to create a vision and develop a strategy that touches all levels of the organisation. This transformative solution includes powerful organisational change and business process management elements.Before a solution is designed, it is important to do an assessment to develop a vision for optimising opportunities and quantifying requirements. This helps align the organisation to the project goals and secure management buy-in. It also provides an opportunity to assist in developing a business case around the initiative.
Next, the project phase “bridges the gap” in technology by upgrading the site infrastructure. The project team undertakes various planning, design, implementation and testing activities. During the multi-faceted implementation phase, an implementation team consisting of project participants, partners and consulting resources works together to achieve benefits from remote operations. Close collaboration creates the structure for remote work and integrated sites and systems, as well as location-agnostic work processes. Optional optimisation, operations, planning and scheduling, operator effectiveness and maintenance modules allow for:
•  Cross-site optimisation of production operations•  Location of operations staff independent of production assets•  Utilisation of an integrated, multi-asset supply chain solution•  Multi-site, centralised deployment of operator effectiveness and maintenance solutions.
 The key to the overall integration capability is advanced software that delivers industrial intelligence in a revolutionary way, providing context to enable all people, processes and applications to work in a uniform fashion. This empowers collaboration across departments, functional areas, geographic boundaries and languages. It also enables industrial organisations to transform data into meaningful information and display it to provide context.
With a remote solution like this, industrial organisations have a transparent process where operators can access the information they need to do their jobs better and safer. They no longer have to visit installations and physical equipment on a frequent basis to check their status. With the entire production process controlled from a centralised point, only a few employees are required on-site, significantly increasing safety and efficiency.
Around the world, industrial organisations are transforming their business results through the use of remote operations technology and centralised collaboration centres. A leading global producer of crude oil and natural gas looked for a way to stay ahead of dynamic market demands and to overcome the many challenges associated with offshore oil and gas production. As part of an innovative technology project and with the help of Honeywell, this company built a central control room (CCR) to help coordinate control of multiple offshore platforms in the North Sea, and improve operations and efficiency.
With the new CCR, this company has centralised operations at 18 of its 26 offshore platforms. All operating and production procedures are fully automated and synchronised, creating increased flexibility and competitive advantage. At the heart of CCR is Honeywell’s Experion PKS solution, which enables operators to monitor and control production at various platforms.
Thanks to an effective remote operations capability, a number of significant operational and business benefits were achieved:
•  Faster, more effective decision making by operations staff•  Greater production flexibility•  Increased efficiency through reduced helicopter flights, ship movements and supply of material to platforms•  Increased uptime and higher levels of productivity and throughput•  Improved safety through full redundancy and built-in failover support.
While improvements in production and yield, raw materials usage and regulatory compliance have an immediate impact on the bottom line, the ability to integrate reliable process information with the business allows industrial organisations to take a major step toward establishing global best practice benchmarks in process control. Additional benefits includes increased technology transfer among facilities, improved hiring retention and training, and greater leveraging of existing expertise.
ConclusionA remote collaboration, optimisation and operations solution can help industrial organisations manage critical assets, regardless of their physical location, so they can securely access all their data, seamlessly deliver information when and where it’s needed, create and monitor enterprise KPIs for decision support, and enforce consistent operational and business processes. As a result, they are able to act and react faster to market conditions, increase productivity and reliability, ensure regulatory compliance, and improve the safety of their employees with less downtime and more production availability.

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