Emerson event highlights potential for African iOps centres

Solutions Exhibition in Stuttgart features a replica iOps installationThe Solutions Exhibition at the Emerson Global Users Exchange, being held in Stuttgart this week, features a replica iOps installation.Emerson Process Management has introduced its Integrated Operations (iOps) initiative to customers at the automation company’s Global Users Exchange, which has been taking place in Stuttgart, Germany, this week

According to Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer at Emerson Process Management, the iOps model will enable oil and gas companies working in difficult and remote locations to operate in safer and less challenging environments, while continuing to increase profitability on their projects.

"These locations are sometimes referred to as the ‘Four D’s’: dull, distant, dirty and dangerous," Zornio explained. "These are often places few people want to go, and the cost and scarcity of skilled workers compounds their challenges."

The organisational model pulls together a host of operational processes into one command centre, streamlining key real-time decision making and business planning processes, and enabling a company to monitor the safety of plant personnel, and the logistics and maintenance of their operations. The initiative aims to dramatically improve the functional alignment of a company’s operations by amalgamating the latest computing, communications and process technologies.

Speaking to Oil Review Africa, Andrew Dennant, director for oil and gas in the Middle East and Africa for Emerson Process Management, said, "The collaborative work environment is built on a foundation of instrumentation, autonomous control and applications that bring humans into the loop to make intelligent decisions," Dennant remarked. "Those decisions happen in a collaborative work environment, but they are enabled by four to five layers of technology."

Emerson Process Management has also declared its intention to target the growing pervasive sensing market, which it said would provide its customers with improved visibility to conditions outside of process controls. The US-based firm has estimated that the market for pervasive sensing technology could double the size of the traditional measurement market over the next 10 years to more than US$16 billion, having noted an increase in demand for pervasive sensing instruments, which are installed at facilities to better detect energy losses, equipment corrosion and safety releases.  

Steve Sonnenberg, President of Emerson Process Management, said, "The combination of pervasive sensing with software and algorithms for interpretation and decision-making is empowering customers with actionable insights in places they never dreamed."

Among its portfolio of products targeting the market are ultrasonic and point sensors from its NetSafety and Groveley product lines, Roxar corrosion and erosion detection technology, vibration sensing of rotating equipment from CSI, and the Rosemount wireless steam trap monitor and wireless bolt-on surface temperature probe.

Zornio noted, "Our customers are like anyone else ­– they want actionable information that can make their lives safer, more predictable, and save them cost, risk and time. This goes beyond the control room and optimising process performance.

"Customers want clarity and certainty of conditions for business-critical decision-making across all aspects of their operations," he added. "To achieve this, a more comprehensive network of sensors is needed ­– pervasive sensing provides the foundations for their insight."

Among the key topics on discussion at the company’s Global Users Exchange conference has been the need to address the growing global shortage of qualified engineers ­– a trend highlighted by one of the event’s speakers who remarked that close to 50 per cent of power plant operators in the USA were set to retire within the next 10 years.

The event has seen the company provide hands-on demonstrations of its instruments and devices, while also hosting a diverse range of technical seminars and industry forums on developments within the automation processing sector. The conference has attracted more than 50 customers from across Africa and the Middle East, including Nigeria, Algeria and Libya, and has placed a heavy focus on oil and gas developments made at select projects across Europe, the USA and the GCC.

Speakers from a number of NOCs and IOCs active across Africa and the Middle East have been sharing their experiences with delegates at the event, including engineers from BP, Repsol, Total and Saudi Aramco.


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