As the energy industry evolves to become more digitally integrated and sustainability focused, AVEVA is supporting operators to transform raw data into a company-wide cultural transformation.
AVEVA’s digital portfolio strategist, Tim Sowell, talks to Energy Today about the huge amount of data that goes unused by operators, and what the company is doing to prevent it.
“The Seagate Rethink Data survey found that 68 per cent of data captured by operators goes unleveraged,” Sowell said.
Part of the problem is that the value of raw data is limited. Without context, each data point gives only a fraction of the picture.
“We need to move towards a data-driven work culture,” Sowell said. “Just having data doesn’t mean anything. There are operators across the industry who have plenty of data, but it’s out of context, which severely limits its usefulness.”
AVEVA’s software is designed to collect and, critically, contextualise data so that it can be used to effectively influence operations around the world.
In order to make sure that data is consistent throughout an entire operation, AVEVA created a lexicon – a way to label the data so that it can be passed up through the information chain and be understood throughout the whole process.
In essence, this means that context is added to the data as it is handed along the chain.
Beyond that, AVEVA software incorporates AI and predictive analytics capabilities that allows engineers to collaborate across disciplines with data shared in a single integrated platform to explore all dimensions of a potential design and quantify the impact on sustainability, feasibility, and profitability. Factors that are increasingly vital in the evolving energy sector. Within existing operations AI tools develop an understanding of typical operations, compare real-time data against that norm, and respond when things change.
“If we get an exception to the expected operation, then the person, or people, who can make the decisions about what to do next are automatically notified,” Sowell said. “It’s quite amazing to see the efficiency that that brings to the system, because it’s literally removing the delays around decision making, and reducing errors.”
“We’ve had customers say that, prior to transforming digitally, 60 per cent of maintenance crew’s time has been spent finding information.”
In the time it takes to search out specific product information – for example, a pump in a plant that is working below optimum levels – the software has already processed the data, integrating the specifications from the manufacturer and from other pieces of that equipment running in other plants.
“There is a real misunderstanding in the industry – one that says that digital systems are one big system with all the information,” Sowell said.
He says that it’s not as simple as that. Instead, AVEVA’s software functions as a series of smaller systems that are able to communicate because of the consistent lexicon that they use to communicate.
By allowing separate systems to communicate at every level of the process, eventually they combine to form a kind of digital nervous system that can digitally track and replicate any part of the operation.
This allows AVEVA’s software to create digital twins – virtual replicas of real-world plants that are accurate because they are represented by simulated components – which allow operators to virtually interact with every step of their processes.
Having an advanced, fully integrated digital system has benefits well beyond the substantial impact it has on tracking operations and responding to situation before they become crises.
By creating a structurally sound digital environment that emulates real-world operations, AVEVA enables operators to innovate through experiment and self-discovery. Where historically it took time to research, test and implement changes to plant operations, the software means that operators can run simulations in real time, make changes, implement them into a model, and measure the result.
“Not only does it de-risk creativity, but it creates a company culture that actively promotes innovation,” Sowell said.
Virtual changes made to operations are visible to everyone else who is accessing the system, meaning that teams brought together from all over the world can collaborate on issues in real time.
“It takes collaboration beyond the idea of just sharing information – people now have the freedom to actively work on solutions no matter where they are in the world,” he said.
Sowell acknowledges that failure is a key element in the process of innovation. Traditionally, these failures have come with the potential for financial risk.
AVEVA’s software removes much of this so that operators can fail forward without costing nearly as much time or putting assets and people at risk.
“We’re helping energy plants become more and more self-aware,” Sowell said. “The equipment in these plants actively records and stores data, and from there the systems are able to contextualise and manipulate operations.”
By building the experience of industry veterans into its software systems, AVEVA ensures that operators in the energy industry are able to perform as essential participants in the global energy transition. Leveraging enriched, contextualized data that helps accelerate the low-carbon transition and foster a culture of innovation.
For more information visit the AVEVA website.