Optimised Assets: how digitalisation is upgrading the APM vision

Asian man engineer using digital tablet working late night shift at petroleum oil refinery in industrial estate. Chemical engineering, fuel and power generation, petrochemical factory industry concept

Unplanned shutdown time across the downstream Oil & Gas reduces asset availability by an estimated 5%. With operators functioning at only 95% of their full potential, the pressure is on for this asset-intensive industry to tighten its performance management.

Maintenance budgets, high safety stakes and an ageing workforce and legacy systems are upping urgency to upgrade. By bringing APM into the digital era, operators can create real business difference in real time.

Introducing APM 4.0

Early computers were as separated as a distributed workforce in a pandemic, and isolated data systems restricted the easy interchange of data, and the building of a holistic picture of your assets. As recently as 2018, a Deloitte survey of oil and gas leaders revealed that APM was ranked low against priorities such as safety processes and cost reduction in maintenance and operations, when asked how digital technology could be used most effectively within their companies.

Since then, horizons – and business perimeters – have broadened. An energy-saving society, aging population, fluctuation in oil prices, and – of course – the global pandemic have had huge impacts on production activities. This has increased demand for new technologies that can streamline operations and assets, and add value to the bottom line. Artificial intelligence and machine learning allows for operators to continuously monitor their supply chain, optimising the speed and accuracy of troubleshooting and reducing turnaround and shutdown time.

Better data will mean better business results, and with the majority of downstream industry leaders in the Asian Downstream Insights network agreeing that vertical integration will play an integral role in the next normal, connectivity is more critical than ever. Simply implementing APM software is not enough:  where it will make a difference is its ability to connect systems – from enterprise resource planning , to safety, to inventory management – and build better collaboration across the entire supply chain.

New technologies, new skills

As APM matures, the workforce needs to grow with it. The evolution of asset performance technology will demand new skills: both technological, and non-technical. Understanding and working with data will become second nature, and C-suite and senior management should lead from the top to become champions and role models for a data-driven business.

Equipment health monitoring, HSE analysis and asset strategy will change and create new roles. Downstream business leaders should work to incorporate this into their hiring and training strategy and make sure that in the era of Refinery 4.0 people are still your most important business asset.

A solid Cloud strategy

As APM advances, and data volume increases, operators are looking outside traditional business perimeters to maintain and manage it. Cloud computing is increasingly being integrated directly into APM solutions, meaning “operators and engineers now have advanced analytical capabilities at their fingertips”.

While data governance and security remain a concern across the industry, the general consensus across the ADI community seems to be that “Cloud is here to stay”. Implementing Cloud as part of your APM strategy will ease both data storage and interoperability between different departments’ data systems. And with the global oil and gas Cloud applications market estimated to reach USD 9.4 billion by 2024, a scalable APM vision is worth an investment.

Enable your data. Enable your business

As Andreas Krobjilowski, General Manager, Shell Jurong Island, revealed to us recently, “(the) energy transition is complex, and requires transformation of systems. Digitalisation is a key enabler.”

An effective APM solution and strategy can combine both online and offline data to visualize plant performance, enhance workforce efficiency, and apply artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive maintenance and resolution. Using data as its raw material, it can process information and transform it into a valuable end-product: real – and real-time –  business performance.

It’s a clear picture of your business assets, and a clear vision of how your business will operate in its next phase. If data is the new oil, APM is the refinery of the future.