Broader than the German concept of Industrie 4.0, which is a shift from centralized to decentralized smart manufacturing and production, Industry 4.0 defined by McKinsey is, “the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector, driven by four disruptions: the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities; new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing.”
These advances in technology are part of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” that is seeing an exponential increase in industrial process efficiencies. For manufacturing verticals such as petrochemicals and other industries where operations include hazardous areas, smart sensors, automation and critical communications technologies are making operations management easier, even as the operations themselves become more complex.
Multiple technological advancements, including augmented reality, automation, drones, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data analytics, cloud computing, and IoT, are part of oil and gas and other similarly critical industrial organizations’ digital transformations. These are enabling predictive maintenance capabilities, improving productivity through faster back office communications, as well as accurate and timely data capture, and improving efficiencies. Companies can better manage production and distribution given more pervasive information sharing that is based on better data collection and analysis. Rather than information silos, Industry 4.0 connects business units and processes and creates shared data systems.
And companies are buying into the concept that streamlining processes will help to reduce costs. Upstream oil and gas companies, for example, are predicted to spend more than $900 billion per year until 2020 on Industry 4.0 development in the expectation of 10-50% increases in efficiency. For supply chain process costs alone, digitizing can mean a 50 percent savings, plus reducing procurement costs by 20 percent and even increasing revenue 10 percent, according to the Center for Global Enterprise.
Industry 4.0 is also attracting new talent into oil and gas, as science and engineering grads – who are an increasingly diverse group – become more interested in the technological trend in the industry. Even as industry veterans retire, digital natives will help to further advance digital transformation in this Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Embracing Industry 4.0, however, is not without its challenges. And organizations with hazardous location operations, such as oil and gas, face unique challenges because the advanced technologies they employ must be certified for use in potentially explosive environments. Communications and data capture devices and sensors must be “intrinsically safe.” Thus, these industries represent a whole new set of requirements for digitizing manufacturing. Yet, oil and gas companies and other hazardous industries are gradually adopting technologies like intrinsically safe mobile devices that bring them one step further into this latest “revolution” by connecting their workforce in real time, facilitating better data capture, and enabling further ability to manage critical data in even the most hazardous areas of the business.
Thus, the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to transform hazardous industries as more technologies are made intrinsically safe and as their adoption becomes more widespread. Welcome to Industry 4.0, oil and gas!
Ask Aegex Technologies about our intrinsically safe solutions that drive improved performance in hazardous location operations.
About Aegex Technologies LLCWith world headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., USA, European headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands, sales offices in Southampton, UK and Dubai, UAE, and distributors worldwide, Aegex provides intrinsically safe mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for hazardous locations in oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, public safety and other industries with potentially explosive environments. Aegex is the maker of the first globally certified aegex10 intrinsically safe tablet and the NexVu IoT Solution, which can be used for real-time data and communications in hazardous locations where only specially designed equipment that will not ignite combustible atmospheres is permitted.
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