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How modern condition monitoring can help oil & gas companies earn consumer trust

By Grayson Morris

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There’s no question that the oil & gas industry has an image problem—but the good news is that consumer trust is growing in companies that walk their environmental talk. Rigorously monitoring the health of critical equipment is a concrete way to prove the industry’s commitment to saving energy and preventing environmental disasters.

According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, consumer trust in the energy industry has grown by 9 percentage points since 2012—more than any other sector except financial services. That’s great news, but there’s still ample room to grow. (And don’t overlook the fact that consumer trust declined from 2019 to 2020.)

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

Source: 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer.

The oil & gas industry has long been considered a “dinosaur” sector: outdated, on its last legs, didn’t get the memo, etc. But just like their counterparts in the publishing, music and automotive navigation industries, oil & gas companies are responding to the changing world order. No doubt some will fail to clear the hurdle of sustainable energy production, but the best and most nimble are already rising to the challenge.

Here are three ways modern condition monitoring systems can help oil & gas companies prove their commitment to a healthy planet:

1. Condition monitoring saves energy.

Healthy machines use less energy than faulty ones. By identifying the start of degradation, modern condition monitoring systems help you keep critical equipment in good condition, and avoid running at suboptimal health for weeks or months unnoticed. This alone can reduce energy consumption by 2-5 percent.

In addition, some condition monitoring systems can provide additional energy efficiency insights at the process level (such as oversized motors and pumps being operated away from their best efficiency point). The gains here can reach 10-35 percent over the long term.

Sidebar: Always-on expert detectives that never miss a beat

Condition monitoring systems are tools that monitor how an industrial machine is performing, in order to track its health and plan repairs before breakdown. Before the 21st century, these insights were largely manual. An engineer would periodically visit the site’s critical machines and measure one or more parameters—vibrations, oil quality, current and voltage, etc—then analyze the resulting data (with greater or lesser expertise). With luck, he or she would catch developing damage in time to avoid potentially disastrous breakdown.

Thanks to advances in machine learning and the industrial internet of things, it’s now possible to detect developing damage months before it will lead to failure. Today’s AI-based condition monitoring systems permanently monitor critical equipment around the clock. This offers a level of fault detection and analysis that is faster, earlier, more accurate and far more scalable than traditional techniques.

2. Condition monitoring averts disaster.

Keeping critical equipment in good condition does more than just save energy, of course. It also prevents the kind of malfunctions that lead to environmental disasters. By continuously capturing and processing high-quality data, AI-based condition monitoring creates a complete record of machine health, with two major benefits: it can identify changes as soon as they begin, and it doesn’t miss any “silent killers”—transient stressors like power fluctuations that often indicate a deeper problem.

3. Condition monitoring makes employees safer.

This gapless archive of health data also enables modern condition monitoring systems to find patterns that reveal the underlying causes of damage. Root cause analysis is complex; it’s often a more efficient use of maintenance resources to replace a bearing every six months than to determine why it fails so often. But now, AI-based condition monitoring can do the analysis for you. Over time, this can help make the entire rig, terminal or refinery safer.

How to craft the optimal condition monitoring strategy

Each condition monitoring technique has strengths and weaknesses, related not only to the type of information contained in its underlying signal but also to the operational constraints on the equipment to be monitored. (It’s hard to stick sensors on an undersea blowout preventer.) A machine’s criticality also factors in: two or even three complementary condition monitoring technologies will provide better coverage than one for equipment that should never, ever fail—but zero might be the right number for your redundant or non-critical systems. 

There’s a lot to consider, so we’ve written a comparison guide to help you start putting together your best strategy. It’s a detailed guide to five of the top condition monitoring techniques for 21st century companies. We hope it helps you reach your goals for a safer, greener oil & gas industry.

The condition monitoring comparison e-book for the oil and gas industry

Learn how current, voltage, oil, sound, vibration and heat can give you early insight into developing oil and gas industry failures—and which techniques work best in which situations to keep critical oil and gas equipment 100% up and running.

Fill in the form to download the e-book.


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