Chris Amstutz, vice president for oil and gas industry solutions at Emerson speaks to Pipeline Magazine’s Nadia Saleem about digital adoption and the way forward
What is the headline strategy for Emerson’s oil and gas offering?
Our focus is on helping our customers achieve top quartile performance across their operations; For our customers that means helping them digitally transform their operations using a combination of technology and people to achieve top quartile performance, whether its production, safety, emissions or reliability.
A key aspect is a deep understanding of how our customers measure their business performance and the attributes of top quartile performers. We see that with top performers it starts from the top of linking strategy to business objectives, demanding a culture of accountability and building out an infrastructure that embeds expertise in work processes and applications, optimised by real-time data. Our Top Quartile strategy helps our customers understand their barriers to top quartile performance and how digital transformation can remove those barriers.
Is there a common theme in the type of IOT challenges you’re seeing with operators in this region?
In the Middle East we see a strong commitment to digital transformation with some of the majors that is being driven down through the organisations. Leadership is committed but organisations are struggling a bit, because they don’t know where to start and there’s not always a clear ROI. Companies are undergoing a cultural evolution and that’s the hardest part of the digital transformation journey they are on. They want to move fast but it’s not easy to develop the key competencies needed for digital transformation – automated workflows, decision support, workforce upskilling, mobility and change management.
Many companies are starting with small digital transformation pilots focused on specific problems with a clear business case to gain experience and scale. Some companies are building digital eco-systems on their own and others are exploring new business models like connected services that allows outside suppliers to monitor assets for instance.
We see that new projects have the opportunity to work in a digital approach but EPCs have slow to change their project execution models, also once a project is started, it becomes very difficult to bring in digital in as is disrupts the established workflow that the project estimates were based on. You have to adopt a digital approach early, in order to get the benefits later.
What are some of more fundamental changes required by the industry?
Recognising the new ways of working as part of digital transformation will drive fundamental culture change within companies. Digital transformation will require different competencies for their work force and workers.
There is a new technology adoption anecdote: no one wants to be first, and no one wants to be third, everyone wants to be second. That’s very true, especially with IOT which is a company culture disruptor. Companies need to understand it’s going to take time because it’s a fundamental transformation of the way their business will operate.
The one difference between international companies and national companies is that the latter has traditionally been focused on creating jobs which was good for those economies.
With the current price of oil and the outlook towards more sustainable forms of energy it’s fundamentally changing the landscape and companies are now looking for ways to rapidly adapt to the new normal. Digital transformation is that lever but they can’t do this without a partner.
What would you see operators need to be doing to become the ideal adopters of digital solutions?
The first thing for ideal adopters is to clearly evaluate where the greatest opportunities are to create the most business value. Most of what we see is around reliability – this is where it’s easy to remove maintenance cost. We are going from operator rounds to predictive maintenance and there is a huge benefit there. When you start to do that, especially on some facilities, your availability goes up overnight and costs go down.
In the long run the ideal adopters will have a clear connection to top quartile performance and business results. They will have strong collaboration and shared goals between IT and OT. They will also recognise and institutionalise the key behaviours and competencies needed for digital transformation within their organisations.