International service provider Petrofac’s striking of a three-year partnership in November with UK-based Intoware – to develop and deploy workflow automation software specifically tailored to the requirements of the oil and gas industry – represents another sizable boost to the oil and gas industry’s ongoing digitalization effort.
Intoware is a provider of workflow automation software for mobile applications. WorkfloPlus converts existing paper-based and human work process into easy to follow, step-by-step digital work instructions accessible via desktop, mobile & wearable computing devices. The company pointed out that this represents a huge opportunity for hundreds of industries to increase productivity, lower costs, improve efficiency, and capture invaluable data, and also become increasingly compliant and a safer environment to work.
The development of Intoware’s platform ‘WorkfloPlus Oil and Gas’ will further optimize the efficiencies that Petrofac has gained from digitalizing maintenance and inspection activity for its clients.
The software has been designed to automatically generate digital workflows, schedules and reports for users, eliminating the traditional manual and time-consuming preparation required.
Said Keith Tilley, Intoware’s CEO:
“We believe that digitalization can be accelerated by empowering connected workers through the use of mobile devices that we all use in everyday life and wearables featuring augmented reality such as Realwear’s HMTs attached to safety helmets for offshore inspections and maintenance.”
He said the new partnership with Petrofac has demonstrated that WorkfloPlus Oil and Gas --when combined with mobile technology -- delivers outstanding productivity, as the time taken to resolve issues offshore is significantly reduced with the benefit of enhanced traceability without compromising on risk or worker safety. “By replacing manual paper-based processes with digital workflow it delivers real-time data insights that drive future operational efficiencies. While at the same time, it ensures standardised, repeatable and right-first-time activity,” said Tilley.
Petrofac has already identified that this project with Intoware has applications beyond oil and gas alone. The bespoke tool also seamlessly integrates with Computer Maintenance Management Systems so it can be utilized across all sectors, not just oil and gas, to drive efficiency gains.
Tilley expects that many more businesses will begin to realize their digital ambitions.
Petrofac’s example is one that could be studied by the wider industry. Combining the use of its Digital Twin and Connected Worker technology alongside WorkfloPlus Oil and Gas, Petrofac said it has digitalized more than 1,500 North Sea inspections to drive up to a 200% increase in offshore productivity.
Connected Worker describes the combined application of mobile devices (handsets, headsets etc.) along with the digital applications used on these devices, which together enable conversion to a digitalized way of working. WorkFloPlus Oil and Gas is the proprietary digital application that Petrofac is combining with Petrofac's Connected Worker capability to digitalize all forms of maintenance and inspection.
Steve Johnson, Vice President of Digital for Petrofac’s Engineering and Production Services business, said the company’s experience in applying WorkFloPlus Oil and Gas across maintenance and inspection, demonstrates the flexibility of the solution, the ease and speed of deployment, and the ability for workers to engage with it.
“The solution can also be applied to a wide range of use cases across a broader range of activities, including commissioning, safety audits, quality checks, competency assessments, and watchkeeping. As we progress next year, a core part of our plan is to scale the usage of this tool beyond the maintenance and inspection domain,” he said. “Therefore, the strong partnership we have with Intoware will enhance our ability to drive more value for our clients in these areas by enabling us to digitalize a wider range of work scopes.”
While the discussion around digitalisation often very quickly migrates to the technology, Petrofac’s experience shows that to truly unlock value, it is crucial to focus on the desired outcome.
“If the aim is to drive productivity in the delivery of a particular type of work activity, the key first step is to take a fundamental look at how it’s currently executed from start to finish. This is the exact approach that we’ve taken when looking at maintenance and inspection; working with the individuals who conduct activities across the entirety of the process from initiation, scoping and planning of the work through to close out, reporting and evaluation of the result. Mapping out this process allows us to identify the pain points, understand where efficiency is lost, value is eroded, and where the opportunities for improvement exist,” said Johnson.
Through that exercise, it’s then possible to identify how to reduce or eliminate the inefficiencies and which digital solutions drive the improvement.
“That process supported us to achieve up to a 200% increase in productivity compared to traditional practices,” said Johnson. “We’ve combined the suitable end-to-end process alongside the appropriate digital solutions to eliminate time-consuming activities – such as manual, paper-based reports - that distract the team in the field from executing the maintenance or inspection task.
”There are no anticipated compatibility issues. Digital Twin supports a wide range of activities, said Johnson. “For example, when converting the delivery of our O&M services for a client in the North Sea, we enabled improved planning and scoping of work by incorporating the client’s own existing Digital Twins in the end-to-end process alongside the adoption of our Connected Worker approach.”
Pushing the Boundaries
what additional efficiencies does Petrofac expect to obtain through the new partnership with Intoware?
“For decades Petrofac has been pushing the boundaries of asset optimisation,” said Johnson. “Well-established practices such as integrating services, optimising maintenance strategies and multi-skilling personnel have helped us, and the industry as a whole achieve some big efficiencies. Through digitalisation, we believe we have an exciting opportunity to further enhance already efficient operations to reduce OPEX and reduce emissions through the process.”
In addition to the efficiencies that the company has secured through WorkFloPlus Oil and Gas, its intention is to further develop the solution by drawing on the experience it has gained in its application to real-life problems.
“We are identifying potential opportunities for further development based on input from users and our ever-increasing understanding of the areas where our clients wish to generate efficiency,” said Johnson.
The focus in future will look into the wide-ranging applicability across other industries.
“The tool is proven to optimise work preparation and planning, prior to the execution of maintenance and inspection. In one case, work preparation activities that previously took several hours to complete can now be completed in a matter of minutes. This kind of use case has fungibility across various areas of industry that have a requirement to maintain and inspect plant equipment, machinery or infrastructure,” said Johnson.