Technology Trends in Hazardous Areas #3:  Digital Analytics and Digital Transformation Reign

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Aegex Technologies has been writing about the top technology trends we are seeing in 2019 for hazardous location industries, including oil and gas and others with potentially combustible environments that require certified digital equipment. Along with intelligent asset management and workforce mobilization, digital transformation is a widespread trend that we see as advancing this year and beyond in our field.

An October 2018 survey by McKinsey reports that success rates of digital transformation are still low. However, the report found that companies who do succeed tend to follow 21 best practices in five categories: leadership, capability building, empowering workers, upgrading tools, and communication. Tools that provide the ability to communicate in real time and gather, record and analyze data on the spot can improve work efficiency and promote better safety.

In a recent survey of 200 oil and gas professionals by Oil & Gas IQ and OpenText, more than half considered cloud capabilities as important. The ability to perform predictive analytics was their top priority for using digital solutions, and half considered analytical capability as critical.

If predictive analytics and cloud-based applications are seen as important and as ways to streamline work processes to reduce costs and improve safety, personnel need some sort of device on which to perform these activities in combustible hazardous environments. Purpose-built devices for hazardous locations, including intrinsically safe tablets allow organizations to “go digital” and eliminate the need for paper. With certified devices, personnel can collect site data, fill out forms, bring their preferred data analytics applications directly to the site of data collection, and immediately analyze and act on that information. Digitizing processes allows technicians to perform tasks in an extremely contracted timeframe compared to manual data entry, thus freeing up their time to complete other activities, reducing man-hour costs and improving productivity. Using digital analytics applications on mobile devices onsite in hazardous area operations reduces the lag time between observing situations and remedying them.

The shrinking of time between data collection and reporting means not only improved productivity; in potentially hazardous environments, the implications for safety are enormous. If a leak is detected in an oil refinery, for example, a technician with a certified mobile device can investigate and immediately assess the situation, referring to digital manuals, adding photos and notes about the problem, and even communicating with offsite experts in real time to remedy the situation before it becomes disastrous.

While operators may perceive benefits from digital transformation for hazardous area industries, not all are going about digital transformation the same way. As a different McKinsey study points out, some would argue that digital transformation must be completed in one fell swoop, while others, as reported by Deloitte, suggest more incremental adoption of digital technologies and solutions. Whichever your path, new technologies, such as intrinsically safe tablets that are certified as safe to use in combustible environments, are making digital transformation possible – and effective – in today’s oil and gas industry and other hazardous area operations.

To read more about the top trends in Oil and Gas, download our Whitepaper

Ask Aegex Technologies about our intrinsically safe solutions that drive improved performance in hazardous location operations.