October 2019, Vol. 246, No. 10

Integrity Management

Oil & Gas and the Evolution to Augmented Reality

For years, augmented reality has been associated with video games, movies and all sorts of entertainment. Little association has been made between the oil and gas industry and an immersive experience that has catapulted society into chasing Pokemons around the globe. But the association is much larger than one would imagine. 

Create augmented reality and step-by-step instructions online
Create augmented reality and step-by-step instructions online

As predicted by Goldman Sachs, the augmented reality (AR) industry will total $80 billion by 2025. The total market estimate incorporates both AR hardware and software that will penetrate not only the entertainment industry but multiple industries and markets. 

One market that has not gained a lot of attention for the adoption of AR is the oil and gas industry. Oddly enough, since the market has been ripe for a solution that ensures continuous safety and can prevent any type of disruption that may cost corporations significant time and money.

In just a few months IoT technology will be integrated with the technology platforms of some of the largest oil and gas companies. The integration spans across their artificial intelligence, IoT, and AR solutions for predictive maintenance, which is the ability to predict any technology issues that may happen across operations with vast amounts of equipment.

With this integration, the AI solution can sense an issue before it happens.  IoT technology will notify personnel of the event prior to its occurrence and connect to AR glasses, helping technicians fix the problem in real time.

With the integration of all three technologies, companies can prevent problems that can have serious consequences for both safety, time efficiency, and financial spending. In fact, the industry is looking forward to a zero down time mentality; essentially, maintaining operations by forecasting an issue and addressing it immediately. When accomplished, predictive maintenance of this nature will be a huge feat with costly savings.

In addition to predictive maintenance, augmented reality will play a front and center role on the field when technicians are on the ground fixing problems that occur. If a technician does not have the expertise to address the problem they encounter being guided by a more experienced technician via a mobile device or smart glasses can help address the problem in real-time. This will prevent the technician from making multiple trips to the field or the need to bring an experienced technician on site, saving corporations approximately $1,500 – $10,000 per incident. The cost savings would include the travel costs, technician fees, and the cost of the equipment being inactive for the time it takes to detect and fix the problem.

 “Being able to connect with an expert (assuming there’s connectivity) to walk through a procedure/task when a worker needs it is incredibly valuable,” stated ABI Research’s Eric Abbruzzese,  “Just the time and cost savings for not having to have an expert travel to a site is significant.”

He added that “With more advanced AR solutions like Microsoft HoloLens, instruction can be directly overlaid on the environment as a worker goes about a task, with rich visualization for content when available. One can even be trained in parallel with accomplishing a task, meaning trainee ramp up can theoretically be instant.”

Additionally, augmented reality devices can record and save a training session so that any technician encountering the same issue can follow a step by step procedure on how to fix the same problem. This eliminates a technician’s need to have an expert instruct them remotely since there is an archive of prerecorded step-by-step sessions in a database of company knowledge. The goal of augmented reality solutions on the field is to create an environment of efficiency so that problems can be solved on the spot.

Technology advances during the last few years have provided solutions that eliminate the need for multiple technician trips and help reduce downtime that costs the industry millions of dollars annually. Pokemon Go might have introduced much of the world to AR, but it is brining very real benefits to energy companies than could have been realized earlier. P&GJ

Author: Evyatar Meiron is the CEO of Fieldbit, a multi-source field service knowledge software platform.

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