Oil & Gas operations across the value chain are fraught with challenges in maximizing margins while mitigating risks of owning and operating critical infrastructures and assets. In order to overcome these issues, organizations are increasingly adopting new technologies that help resolve business problems, enhance services delivery, and standardize and rationalize solutions for cost optimization. Process control domains across different entities within the Oil & Gas value chain use various forms of automation system components such as sensor networks, SCADA, distributed control systems, terminal automation systems, etc. to support critical business processes and operational processes. Most organization production & manufacturing units are operated, managed & controlled by local business groups. In this context, global transformation and outsourcing of IT services within the business critical process control domain is gaining importance as industry leaders seek ways to achieve and maintain sustainable business growth.
A key rationale for this transformation is the need and possibility of bringing the best practices of the wider enterprise IT to the process control domain - which includes standardization, centralization, global services delivery, remote monitoring, asset management, etc. A Gartner report on key Information Technology/Operational Technology (IT/OT) integration areas suggests that by 2015, more than 70% of CIOs will oversee the connected performance of all their enterprises' digital assets. This clearly calls for a shared accountability between the business and enterprise IT groups in recognizing and adapting to technological changes, as emerging technologies like the Cloud, Virtualization and OPC- UA continue to evolve dramatically in process control domain. The increased need for integrating real-time systems with applications at levels above is also driving dedicated focus on improving cybersecurity of these systems. From an organizational standpoint, this sums up a transformation - from a small set of business users maintaining business critical systems in silos; to shared ownership between enterprise IT and business wherein they can leverage the maximum potential from interconnected real-time systems and adopt rapidly-evolving technological changes.
Wipro’s Oil & Gas group leverages its key domain and technology capabilities across the process control system hierarchy to help customers traverse this transformational journey. We support customers with our core skills in process control domain gained through key engagements with Energy super-majors in providing different types of IT services within the process control domain and experience of providing globally managed security services, plant network designing and planning services, application migration & support services and other similar services for energy and manufacturing customers.
Today's oil and gas industry is faced with volatile oil prices, spiraling production costs, diminishing resources and a growing demand that is fast outstripping supply. Broad regulatory and policy changes related to health, safety and environment in the oil & gas industry, including those related to green gas emissions, are predicted to increase spending by energy companies on a range of technologies and systems. With further industry consolidation expected in the coming years, oil majors are increasingly looking at ways to manage their multiple and dispersed business units across the globe while keeping an eye on costs. The focus is now on transforming the organization to become interconnected, intelligent, risk complaint, and above all, sustainable in a world of constraints.
This paper highlights the need for standardization and transformation of IT services within the process control domain. The paper draws on first- hand experience of Wipro in providing such services to multiple Energy super-majors and capabilities as a system integration partner for key process control system vendors within the Manufacturing domain. This paper further discusses the various types of IT services within the process control domain that Oil & Gas organizations can consider along with suggested approaches to ensure seamless transformation.
This paper addresses several target groups within the customer organization, but there may also be specific IT and business groups within the industrial facility supporting various aspects within the process control and monitoring domain who may find this paper useful.
CIOs: An increasing number of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) within the Oil & Gas and other manufacturing businesses are being asked to oversee the connected performance of their enterprise Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). In this context, we believe the information in this paper is a good starting point to look at assessing the organization’s maturity level and initiate site-level and global IT services standardization accordingly within the process control domain.
Business Groups Supporting the Process Control Systems: This group is a very important set of stakeholders that understands the rapid technological changes taking place within this domain and also the importance of service reliability of the underlying critical IT infrastructure within the PCD. This paper will help bring in fresh perspectives and approaches to this group on the why, what and how globally standardized PCD IT services can help overcome some of the critical challenges and bring in efficiency improvements.
Enterprise IT Architects: Most organizations are already starting to realize the benefits of leveraging IT groups and skills within the process control domain and adopting best practices from the office IT domain. This paper provides additional inputs to the IT groups within the customer organizations that are involved in IT services standardization within different business processes, including support of critical IT infrastructure within the process control domain.
Why? – IT Services Transformation in the PCD
There are several reasons why some organizations, particularly industry leaders, have already realized the need for IT services transformation in the PCD and have begun this journey.
Key drivers for PCD IT services transformation:
- Move to Open PCS
- Evolving New Technologies
- Real-time Information Integration
- Vendor Rationalization
- Remote Support
- Enterprise IT involvement in PCD
- PCD IT Tools Standardization
Move to Open Process Control Systems: Process control systems have, over the years, moved from being proprietary and closed setup to adopting open standards and allowing seamless integration and interoperability of multi-vendor systems. This, in turn, requires increased involvement of personnel with skills that have traditionally remained in IT groups. The move to open and more seamlessly connected systems is a key factor driving the need for this change within the process control domain.
Evolving Technologies: A significant change in the recent years has been the adoption of evolving technologies and platforms within the process control systems, which have long since traditionally remained in the Information Technology (IT) domain. Some relevant examples of these include the adoption of Microsoft operating systems and technologies and, more recently, Virtualization technologies for SCADA and DCS servers, Operator stations, Engineering workstations and other advanced applications at Level 3 in the Purdue model for control system hierarchy. At the lower levels of the hierarchy, wireless technologies particularly wireless mesh-based sensor networks and wireless video are being adopted for monitoring previously un- instrumented and hazardous areas in various industrial applications. Valuable data from these networks are then securely integrated into the control systems and are also securely made available to wireless- enabled applications at different levels. Although its adoption may be currently nascent within the process control domain, Cloud computing is another emerging area that organizations are starting to consider in consuming Business Processes, Software, Infrastructure or Platform as services.
Real-Time Information Integration: Enabling the availability of real-time information for timely decision making is crucial to ensure efficient operations and management of a plant. A typical scenario is the ability to integrate the applications that Planners & Schedulers use with information in the real-time domain to drive production efficiencies and optimize inventories. Most organizations are currently in pursuit of several such smart initiatives. However, with the growing need for integration, an important consequence is that these real-time systems are now more at risk to external threats. A dedicated focus on improving cyber-security of these systems is clearly an important initiative and organizations need to make a concerted effort to comply with stringent regulations and global security standards.
Vendor Rationalization: Most large Oil & Gas and Manufacturing organizations have standardized or consolidated vendors for several key areas in the process control domains. Main Automation Contractors (MAC) for supply of process control and automation systems or large IT hardware vendors providing servers, desktops and other such infrastructure are good examples of such rationalization that have occurred or are ongoing. However, there is still a myriad set of services from various individual vendors that the customer’s local business and IT groups have to deal with. The need of the hour is a globally standardized service integrator that can deliver a standardized set of these services.
Remote Monitoring and Support: Another key driver is the increased need for centralised remote monitoring of all key processes that enable customers to leverage their network of key experts, regardless of where they are. Cost-efficiency drive of the ogranization, combined with several technologies enabling the remote monitoring and management of systems and application, enable organizations to leverage this capability.
Enterprise IT Involvement in PCD: While process control systems have traditionally been managed by smaller sets of business groups in individual sites, it is becoming important for business groups and Enterprise IT to come together to manage and adapt to changes happening within this domain and bring about transformation. CIOs and other stakeholders are increasingly recognizing the need for IT service standardization within the process control domain and are looking for ways to standardize their operations and embark on the transformational journey.
PCD IT Tools Standardization: Organizations require standardized solutions that can be deployed globally in enabling provisioning of IT services with the process control domain. In some cases, providing this software or solutions as service from a central group will result in improved utilization of these resources. There are several IT service tools and enablers for deploying, migrating and maintaining the systems in the process control domain that have huge scope for solution standardization.
Some examples of these tools include:
- Software for deploying Microsoft patches
- Anti-virus updates
- Solutions and applications for firewall management
- Plant network monitoring & management
- Asset & Inventory management
- Servers & desktops life-cycle management
- Remote Application hosting & support
- Intrusion detection
- Secure remote access for troubleshooting and file-transfers
In the current scenario of fast-evolving automation system and supporting IT infrastructure products, it is important for organizations to migrate quickly to the latest technology platform to stay competitive in a volatile marketplace. Organizations are starting to recognize the need for transformation and are beginning to bring in standardization in a variety of IT services within the process control domain.