Industrial providers identify cloud as single important solution to thriving in the new normal

Industrial organisations are opting for Cloud, Digital Twin, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technologies to address the complexities of today’s challenging macro-economic environment. This is according to AVEVA, a global provider of engineering and industrial software.

At a recent virtual press panel, hosted by the company and moderated by Craig Resnick, vice president, Consulting at ARC Advisory Group, solution providers exchanged views on how industrial organisations are innovating using technology to maintain business continuity and drive better supply chain and production planning. This is turning challenges into opportunities to increase productivity and profitability, especially when it comes to improving supply chain inefficiencies and driving sustainability initiatives.

The panel, which comprised senior representatives from three energy sector organisations – The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Wood PLC and DCP Midstream participating alongside Craig Hayman, CEO of AVEVA – emphasized how technology is playing a vital role in achieving real-time optimisation and improving decision making, digitally enabling business operations, supported by an often remote workforce to drive substantial cost reductions.

Rising demand for cloud in the industrial setting

Craig Hayman, CEO of AVEVA, kicked of the panel sessions by emphasizing the massive opportunity for digital transformation for the industrial sector, which has traditionally been underpenetrated by digital technologies. He commented: “Digital Twin, AI and Cloud are improving collaboration and accelerating autonomous projects across the globe. To enable digital resiliency and long-term sustainability, organisations need to bring together the connected workforce with Cloud, Big Data and Edge capabilities. There are new pressures and opportunities, but ultimately one digital imperative.”

Craig Resnick reported that 80% of ARC’s clients are pursuing Cloud in their production operations to increase asset uptime and performance, a number that has increased dramatically during the pandemic. The need for remote monitoring and control of operations in engineering has driven the uptake of new tools, such as augmented and virtual reality, to supplement the remote experience and connect workers in the field, on-prem and working from home. Digital Twin technologies in the Cloud have witnessed one of the fastest growth trajectories among the transformational tools piloted or adopted during the pandemic, with remote engineering design and build, as well as remote operate and maintain, cited as drivers for this acceleration.

The collective group also agreed that while many investments in digital technology may not have had clear-cut business cases pre-pandemic, for example, connected workers could have been perceived as a non-essential, and this has all changed. “Organisations that didn’t take going digital seriously before, are doing so now,” said Dr. Alan E Nelson, CTO at ADNOC.

Dr. Nelson also advised organisations to focus their technology strategy and investments across a few impactful platforms (including new energy technologies, manufacturing processes and materials of the future). He further commented, “Technology strategies cannot be considered in isolation and should be developed in collaboration with key global strategic partners. Such strategies also need to support and encourage R&D capabilities to innovate at scale, which is crucial to reducing the risks related to commercialisation of new technologies and giving organisations an edge in this new COVID-19 landscape.”

Darren Martin, CTO of Wood, cited Digital Twin as a key enabler, to operate, maintain and optimise assets remotely across the globe with precision. While connecting people and workers during the pandemic has been key to business resilience and continuity, AI and automation is facilitating up front design, allowing people to focus on more complex developments. “The pandemic forced the industrial sector to embrace digital almost by default with future plans brought forward suddenly and accelerated to be ready and operational, now.

Almost overnight there was an increased demand for systems that were smarter, faster, modular, safer, that would minimise scheduling delays in order to reduce OPEX, increase sustainability, lifespan and upskill existing trade craft professionals to be able to take on new roles.”

Bill Johnson, group vice president and chief transformation officer, DCP Midstream, commented: “Our DCP 2.0 strategy is focused on industry-leading innovation and digital transformation with a goal to achieving real-time optimisation and decision making, digitally enabling our business and workforce and increasing our cash flow while diminishing risk.

By utilising real-time data from a variety of sources to make the most strategic business decisions, driving workforce efficiencies through automation as well as creating digital platforms to improve our employees’ quality of life and customer experience and utilising predictive analytics to improve asset maintenance we are confident that we are on a positive path to ensuring that DCP Midstream is equipped to remain agile and competitive even in the most disruptive environments.”

Craig Hayman, CEO, AVEVA concluded, “As the post pandemic world returns to a new normality, I urge industrial organisations to seize the opportunity to maximise the benefits of creating a more agile, resilient business and exploiting the many advantages that emerging new technologies can offer. Organisations that are waiting for the future need to wake up to today’s reality and understand that the future is here now and that digital transformation investments that are made today will determine the continued success of their operations moving forward.”

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