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How leading-edge technologies – AI, AR, IIoT are changing the energy industry

There’s no avoiding the modern-day oil industry's rigorous challenges and volatility.

Consumer demand and prices fluctuate fervently, and all organisations in the sector must navigate the ups and downs of the geopolitical landscape, which can cause supplies to get cut in the blink of an eye.

Oil is also among the most profitable sectors worldwide, amassing $4 trillion in global profits in 2022.

Industry players must meet the balance of navigating risks and maximising profits. Doing so necessitates optimised, efficient operations.

Managing and mitigating volatile industry circumstances means shoring up all inefficiencies, trimming all excess fat and saving money wherever possible.

Enter the digital transformation in oil, which is set to yield efficient, sustainable, safer, and more profitable results. To this point, artificial intelligence (AI) adoption in the oil and gas industry has the potential to contribute to $1.2 trillion of industry-wide savings by 2030.

AI, and augmented reality (AR) have a harmonious relationship, especially regarding the digital transformation in oil.

The combination of the two enhances capabilities via intelligent data processing. They overlay information dynamically (creating an augmented environment to empower decision-making with actionable insights, putting equipment status on the operator’s field, etc.). That’s all before integrating AI and AR with the Internet of Things.

Below, we’ll explore AR further, examine how it’s changing the oil industry, and discuss its role in digitally transforming the sector.

What Is Augmented Reality?

AR overlays computer-generated information, pictures, and movies on the outside world, altering our reality experience.

To some, this may sound like VR or virtual reality. However, VR calibrates with users in a simulation. Conversely, AR implements digital characteristics into the real world.

Use cases (beyond the oil industry) for AR include:

  • One widespread use of AR is in gaming, most prominently with Pokemon Go, where the virtual and real worlds meshed for optimal gameplay.
  • The retail industry is no stranger to AR, enabling customers to see products (e.g., furniture) in their own space before deciding on a purchase.
  • Interactive 3D models, immersive simulations, and historical simulations powered by AR enhance learning in educational settings.
  • Real-world directions and points of interest can be overlayed by AR navigation apps, simplifying and streamlining travel.

These AR iterations might not directly apply to the oil industry–but they are transferable to functions that meet the sector's needs.

Where Does AR Fit In With The Oil Industry?

This section will delve into current and potential use cases of AR in the oil industry:

One such example includes AR-powered headsets being clipped to hard hats. These can offer technicians hands-free instructions directly onto equipment for system maintenance or inspections.

The necessary tools, steps, and parts can be precisely animated by AR, dramatically reducing uncertainty and errors and streamlining efficiency. Furthermore, these animations can provide sensor data and checklists. They can also visually illustrate which parts need replacement, removal, or adjustment.

AR can help technicians work independently of physical manuals, providing the same information through graphics as needed.

Equipment changes can also be planned by technicians using AR.

For instance, oil companies—faced with a complex environment–have used AR to help mechanics visualise a cable’s optimal location and the fastening process. They saw clearly the challenges they’d encounter and were prepared to overcome them seamlessly due to AR.

Two-way communications can be offered through AR headsets, enabling back-and-forths between remotely located experts and support technicians, who obtain a virtual look over their shoulders in high-definition, real-time video. Simultaneously, a recording can be generated for future use and quality control. This can enable real-life stimulation of hazardous events and safer training environment to delivery engineers. Furthermore, this helps retention and upskill of staff in a secure environment.

AR can also display what happens inside a technician’s equipment. They can then learn how to optimise necessary adjustments and prevent damage to resources.

AR In the Big Picture

AR offers many advantages, but it’s not without limitations; one is the lack of widespread adoption. If AR is to reach its destined heights, widespread usage and acceptance are a must.

While the technology is impressive as it stands, it can keep evolving to continue offering more to those utilising it. It’s still relatively new and must keep developing to keep up with the continual challenges facing those in the industry.

Yet, discrepancies exist between executive priorities and digital transformation in the oil industry, according to numbers from McKinsey & Company. To add some context, operational excellence and margin optimisation are prioritised at a higher level.

Ironically, by adopting full-fledged digital transformation in oil, operational excellence and margin optimisation are more likely to be achieved than without adopting it.

Digital transformation in the oil industry means implementing AR, AI, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Coordinating and integrating these technologies to work harmoniously with each other enables disparate systems to communicate and share real-time data at all operational levels.

Thus, the tech is brought to the edge–closer to operations. An interconnected digital ecosystem gets cultivated, and silos are eliminated.

While AR–in and of itself–is a vital tool, its benefits independently pale compared to what it offers as (a crucial) part of an interconnected digital network.

The Digital Oilfield: AI/AR/IIoT And Smart Technology Benefits

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what benefits an entirely digitally transformed oilfield can:

  • Optimise processes that minimise the need for manual interventions, improving general efficiency in drilling, exploration, production, and distribution.
  • Limit downtime by anticipating equipment failures with predictive maintenance.
  • Provide environmental monitoring to ensure compliance regulations are followed, reducing the operation’s environmental impact and offsetting emissions outputs.
  • Offer efficient supply chain management, automation, and predictive analytics to help reduce costs through optimised resource utilisation, streamlined operations, and minimised downtime.
  • Give early warnings, remote operation facilitation, and comprehensive controlled-environment training to improve safety/duty of care. Historical safety data analysis will identify potential risks and patterns.
  • Enable experts to provide guidance from anywhere in the world, limiting the need for physical presence in dangerous sites.
  • Evaluate vast data from across multiple sources for further expansions and operation efficiency, including analysis and identification of new energy sources.

Reach Out To Commercis To Learn More

Technology will be the driving force in the oil industry from this point forward. Companies that adopt it and remain on the cutting edge will have a competitive advantage over their slow-to-act competitors.

Commercis is a trusted and experienced tech partner that provides innovative solutions tailored to your needs. Our commitment and vast knowledge surrounding digital transformation are unparalleled, and our knowledgeable teams will dedicate themselves to taking your oil company to the next level.

Contact us today to learn more.

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