Remote Monitoring Comes of Age

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Remote Monitoring Comes of Age
Companies with geographically dispersed operations, such as upstream and midstream oil and gas facilities, can benefit from the increased ability to monitor and control those installations remotely. 

A recent article from industry consulting firm Endeavor Management examines the ways in which remote operations can help reduce costs, improve performance, and “embrace the future.”

Benefits of remote operations
The authors site three primary benefits of remote operations:

1. Reducing the number of personnel who must be on site, which saves on costs such as housing and transportation while also minimizing exposure to hazards.

2. Relocation of offsite experts to land-based operations, which enhances collaboration among operations teams and multi-discipline specialists. This also fosters assimilation of operations and business staff, which improves alignment of technical solutions and business objectives.

3. More flexibility in drawing on resources of experienced professionals, who may only be available on a part-time basis, for example, enabling retirement-age professionals to remain in the workforce.

The current COVID-19 pandemic makes the need to implement remote operations critically important. The recommendations in a recent U.S. government Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advisory to critical infrastructure companies include the following measures:

  • Secure systems to enable remote access, including Implementing multifactor authentication.
  • Test remote access solutions capacity or increase capacity.
  • Increase awareness of information technology support mechanisms for employees who work remotely.
  • Update incident response plans to consider workforce changes in a distributed environment.

 

Implementing remote operations
To achieve the benefits of remote operations, the Endeavor Management article identifies the need for a technical infrastructure, a shift from manual to virtual interfaces, change management to help employees make the transition and ongoing project management to ensure that improvements are sustainable.

The technical infrastructure involves digital monitoring and control of process facilities and related equipment that can handle external data collection and storage. This would entail interconnected electronic data repositories, both onshore and offshore. It also requires secure, high speed and high bandwidth data communications with global reach.

The Endeavor writer sees manual equipment-based control centers being replaced by virtual interfaces that replicate the touch and feel of the remote physical operations centers. They believe this will require approaching equipment maintenance in new ways, including reducing or eliminating or automating manual tasks. They see Digital Twins and computerized simulations of structures and processes playing a role here as well.

To learn more about how Bedrock Automation is controlling remote operations securely, see Bedrock OSA Remote.

For a video showing how Bedrock Automation can upgrade a control system remotely see Bedrock Automation’s Bumpless Control System Upgrade Process

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