IOTech Systems Limited

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Oil and Gas

Downtime is expensive for any manufacturer, but downtime in the oil and gas industry unsurprisingly is extremely expensive. According to an MIT Sloan study, a single day of downtime for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility can cost $25 million and a typical midsize LNG facility goes down about five times a year.

Combined with the reality of higher oil prices, the oil and gas industry is embracing new technologies to improve efficiencies and minimize unplanned downtime. In particular this means the adoption of Industrial IOT solutions is becoming much more important to oil producers.

But the Industrial IoT (IIoT) brings with it challenges as well. Aside from security concerns, the oil and gas industry is particularly susceptible to network bandwidth limitations. The inevitable consequence is that performing analytics closer to where the data is being gathered is needed to fulfill the promise of IIoT in oil and gas.

Like many others, the oil and gas industry is becoming more and more connected all the time. The increase in industrial connected devices is a combination of new smart connected products and legacy equipment retrofitted with sensors and gateways.

The oil and gas industry faces communication issues unlike many other industries. According to Cisco, a typical offshore oil platform generates 1-2 TB of data every day. The communication link to get that data to a central repository is typically a satellite connection through which data travels at a rate of 64 Kbps to 2 Mbps. The end result is that it could take 12 days for one day of data to be transmitted to the data center.

Latency is also an issue because the usefulness of data is often lost if not used immediately, particularly data related to platform efficiency and safety.

With data collection and processing performed locally on an IoT gateway device, data can be collected and analyzed local close to the sensor instead of being sent to a remote SCADA system.

This setup also enables decisions to be made about the importance of data - not constantly pushing data every set time interval if nothing has changed. If you’re able to push data from the devices only on data changes, you could save the amount of raw data going across your network

Other benefits include local storage so that, if the network does go down, the data isn’t lost. Also, it could use more appropriate, secure protocols for transmission, such as OPC UA, MQTT, CoAP, etc.

The adoption of edge computing solutions and the software platforms that support them such as IOTech’s Edge Xpert for the oil and gas industry is part of an industry-wide trend to be able to use the data closer to where it’s collected.


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