For a growing number of companies, the Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming a reality rather than just a concept, and they're beginning to see early returns.
Songa Offshore, an international midwater drilling contractor with a strong presence in the North Atlantic basin, is a case in point. For the company, which operates a fleet of semi-submersible rigs, conducting efficient drilling operations without compromising the health and safety of workers or having a negative impact on the environment is a key goal.
Long-term asset management and maintenance is also a top priority, because downtime and equipment reliability directly affect overall results, said Mark Bessell, COO at Songa.
To monitor asset performance and help boost efficiency, the company has connected IoT sensors to 600 assets on each of four rigs throughout the North Atlantic Basin, using an IoT platform from enterprise applications developer IFS.
Songa uses IoT reference architecture for streaming diesel and electrical engine running hours. "This data is used to drive condition-based maintenance [CBM] and supply data for reporting purposes," Bessell said. In addition, the IT department uses the data for resource monitoring to measure response times, failures, inconsistencies, etc.
Applying IoT to CBM will be among the biggest benefits, Bessell said. CBM will play a major role in supporting the company's Class on Location strategy, where rigs need to have a revision on their class certificates.
"This has historically been accomplished by taking a rig out of service every five years to conduct a special periodic survey," Bessell said. "With Class on Location there will be continuous classing of the rigs while in operations. The strategy could result in significant cost savings and improved operational uptime, he said.
From a strategic point of view, the company sees "a very high potential in the IoT services, which will reduce the human intervention with equipment, provide us with huge advantages for cross-functional automation of processes, and [give us] the ability to turn data into important business information which will support analysis and forecasting activities," Bessell said.
Among the key technology components of the IoT project are sensors that collect data on water quality, oil quality, gas, humidity, leakage, flow, temperature, and other factors; network infrastructure including security products such as firewalls and secure access; data interchange protocols to ensure low latency and high-volume data transmission; IoT data gateways and hubs to capture and analyze data; and databases and data warehouses to store and extract the huge amounts of data being gathered.
In addition, the company is using machine learning to help analyze the possible effects of the received data.
The IFS IoT Business Connector enables Songa to have assets transmitting condition readings into its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which then form the basis for planning and optimizing maintenance activities.
"IoT is very important for our future process improvements and it is a very important aspect of the Songa Offshore digitalization strategy," Bessell said. "Now connected IoT sensors are online and will give condition of related devices 24/7. This is critical when it comes to digitalization and automations. [It] will give the company the possibility for advanced analytics that will support decisions on a strategic, tactical, and operational level."
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