The December editions of the Emerson Exchange Americas virtual series are taking place Tuesday and Thursday this week and next week. I joined the Refining Industry Forum to get an update on the technologies and solutions driving improved performance for refiners.
Ed Schodowski led the session featuring leaders from BP, Chevron and Ergon Refining.
The first question Ed teed up was to ask about each company’s digital transformation journey. BP has set out to be a net zero carbon company by 2050. Their strategy is to reshape the business pivoting from oil production to integrated energy company delivering solutions to their customers.
Digital innovation requires merging IT and plant engineering in architecture & data modeling, digital technologies and data science, experimentation & proof of value, and business & domain expertise.
The goal is to improve operations in commercial performance, productivity & personal safety, reliability & process safety, and data & computing. Performance gains come in decision making, work process automation & simplification, smarter asset health monitoring and data when and where it’s needed.
Chevron described a project at one of their refineries to take install and use a plantwide wireless network to improve performance.
Ergon Refining is a specialty refiner seeking to differentiate their products from the major refineries. Their approach in digital transformation has been to look for the low-hanging fruit and perform projects the have the best ROI opportunities. The approach has been to execute in stages starting with the digital control system, then process monitoring, electronic marshalling, asset management, electronic logbooks, wireless & pervasive field devices, integration with their SAP enterprise resource planning system, and finally up to this point, mechanical integrity.
The people side of digital transformation is even more important than the technologies since new work processes and habits need to be developed to benefit from what the technologies can bring.
The next question Ed asked was to discuss the digital efforts with the changing market dynamics. BP is broadening their energy mix to increase non-hydrocarbon sources. From a technology standpoint, they have even introduced robots and drones into their operations.
Other key initiatives included modeling to identify and justify optimization opportunities, wireless continuous corrosion monitoring, and machine learning and other analytics for predictive maintenance on asset.
Reliability will continue to be a major focus through remote asset monitoring. Robotics will play a growing role in route-based activities and access in hazardous areas. Advanced control is changing where the focus is to keep the models evergreen through deep learning technologies. Any tools that increase the productivity of plant personnel is one of the largest opportunities for improved performance.
Visit the Downstream Hydrocarbons section on Emerson.com for more on the technologies and solutions to drive your digital transformation initiatives.