How will the oil industry evolve during Industrial Revolution 4.0?

Energy & Low Carbon Industry | Reports | Technology

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When scrutinizing the advancement of mankind’s technological achievements, it’s common knowledge that there is a steep rise in innovation around the time of the Industrial Revolution, with the advent of differential power generation, large-scale mechanisation and chemical manufacturing.

In the last century, however and especially in the last 50 years, innovation of this kind has been close to exponential, with no signs of slowing.

Director of UK oil company Tristone Holdings, Henry Berry, gave his insight to Business Leader on how he is hopeful about new technologies continually helping to shape the future, despite the industry experiencing turbulence.

Smart Pipelines

Despite its prevalence as buzzword across various industries, the digital streamlining presented by ‘smart’ technology should always be welcomed. From smart fridges to smart phones, the technology is here to stay. Somewhat unexpectedly, pipelines are the latest infrastructural component in the long list of upgrades. Being able to monitor environmental information and track conditions to keep on top of improvements, they’d have the ability to to provide accurate data from the whole length of the pipe. Last month, an agreement was signed between Japanese steel firm Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc. (MISI) and Tri-D Dynamics (a Silicon Valley tech firm) to work together to develop them. Oil investment companies are constantly looking at the market to see where areas can be optimised, so to see tech innovators, like Tri-D Dynamics, implement solutions at the leading edge of technology shows just how much the industry strives to continually modernise.

Wearable Exoskeletons

The present and future very much collide with the existence of full-body exoskeletons. Although they sound like something out of an action film, they’re undoubtedly the future of risk management and labour mitigation. The Salt Lake City-based robotics firm, Sarcos, manufactures the Guardian XO, and it has applications in everything from warehouse work to construction. In spite of increasing automation, it’s still a labour intensive industry, so it isn’t unlikely that suits like Sarcos’ – with a maximum load of 200lbs and requiring only minimal training – might soon become commonplace on rigs around the globe.

The future of risk mitigation for dangerous tasks comes with their newest product, the Guardian XT, which is teleoperated and allows the driver to maintain a safe distance whilst carrying out the most intricate and dextrous of tasks, even at height.

Digital Twin Technology

Virtual and augmented reality have applications in almost all vertical and horizontal markets, and oil is no exception. Digital Twin Technology works to provide a virtual mock-up of a physical environment or product, which can cut manufacturing costs and allows engineers to simulate usage prior to production. This has understandably been taken on by big players, such as BP, and can be used to streamline processes, assess risk and carry out training.

As with so many other sectors at the moment, the oil industry remains in a relatively unstable position thanks to the impact of COVID-19. New technologies once restricted to the confines of the imagination of a 70s sci-fi novel are now becoming reality, and are most definitely part of the solution in getting back on track to exponential levels of innovation. The more that oil and gas companies can harness this kind of advantageous technology, the more progressive the industry will become.

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