The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) recently pointed to an interesting aspect of 2016-17. The association, in its annual survey in which field services are a critical component, said that planned spending for the year would be “high” with top spending categories for field services being self-service portals, customer experience analytics and parts and logistics1. Let’s spell out the message in this finding: digital adoption in field services will grow and investments in IoT, Mobility and Cloud will be exponential. With customers wanting everything to be Uberized – meaning, faster and flexible service at lowered costs – traditional field service practices will fall by the way side. Organizations will have to redesign their field operations with particular attention to unifying currently fragmented solutions.
Field operations are among the most challenging activities for Oil & Gas companies, particularly in Upstream. Units are scattered in difficult terrain across the globe. Services available in these locations are very conservative in nature. There are incongruent geo-specific operators using diverse local products (with spares and support availability as the deciding factor). In addition, local network, communication and technology providers without standardized systems and protocols, add to the operational challenges. O&G companies are therefore forced to set up local offices that co-ordinate and manage contracts with a growing number of diverse partners.
Traditionally, field communications consists of communication, IT and upstream specific systems for announcements and environment monitoring. However, as the O&G eco-system expands and becomes more diverse and widely spread, OT (Operational Technology) and IoT are going to be the key influencers of how next gen field operations shape up.
With increasing adoption of IoT, upstream field units will see more assets that communicate over non-IP interfaces. These could include wearables, heads up displays, drones and beacons. In most upstream environments, OT systems run as separate entities due to security sensitivity and business criticality. However, efforts are being made to integrate OT with traditional IT networks to enhance remote manageability and reduce operations cost. Implemented correctly, organizations can cut over to experts providing remote asset monitoring and operations support. The direct impact of this would be to make the best resources available but also to reduce the cost associated with deploying (scarce) onsite expertise.
Value Creation with Next Gen Field Operations
To work out next gen field operations, it is imperative to look at the components involved at each stage of the operational cycle along with the integration points that deliver an end-to-end Filed Service Framework. Wipro considers the next generation of Field Services as a major value creator for O&G organizations.
We build next gen field services using FieldNXT, a framework that starts with the concept of a ‘Unit’. A Unit can be a single asset (example: a server or a CCTV camera) or a combination of multiple interconnected assets or a field site as a whole. For field services, each Unit should have certain operational and performance parameters which need to be monitored, measured and analyzed. The parameters need to be extracted from the asset and classified based on their criticality. Edge Analytic devices (such as OT equipment and devices armed with data sensors) themselves can perform an analysis of the data or send the data to a central store for further analysis. Once analyzed, the unit should get represented as either a healthy one which does not need any attention (green); below threshold but operations can continue (amber); or in a stage of criticality (red) that needs appropriate attention.
The 9 Steps to uccess with FieldNXT
Defining a Unit: A field Unit consists of multiple interdependent elements. Each element is defined with a set of operational and performance parameters with their respective KPIs. Defining a Unit with classification of parameters makes the operating model agile and accommodative to change.
Aggregation: The aggregation of all sub components of the unit are required to achieve the following:
- Define the interdependence logic
- Build the operational conditions (such as critical, anomalous, normal)
- Filter out insignificant data at field aggregation level for efficient use of bandwidth (required to transport the data) and analytical resources. Once elements of a Unit are integrated to a DAG (a data aggregation gateway that acts as a local statistics collection agent), the DAG stores and performs preliminary analysis of the events. If critical events are identified, those events alone are sent to a central data store for further analysis. The DAG uses interfaces suited to multiple field devices. These have to be developed based on the type of field devices to be on boarded. This is a key constituent of the FieldNXT framework.
Transport: Generally IP WAN/MPLS, VPN over Internet, satellite links, microwave links or GSM/LTE-4G are used to transport critical event data. During low traffic hours all event data will be sent to the central data store for historical analysis. This data can be used to extract further insights on unit performance, extrapolate to predict behavior and proactively prevent downtime.
Cloud Infrastructure for Analytics: Since the FieldNXT framework looks at consolidation of all assets as a single unit it is imperative that critical events sent by the Edge Analytics devices are aggregated using cloud infrastructure. This infrastructure also hosts the real time analytics stack. At a higher layer it provides cognitive and predictive inputs to other support systems. This critical piece plays a pivotal role in on boarding IoT devices that are going mainstream.
Remote Management: Remote Management is the central component of FieldNXT. Almost all enterprises nowadays have monitoring tools and software installed at various locations. Most of the IT assets are monitored from central Network Operations Center (NOC). This eliminates the complexity of support provides with varying processes at each location.