National Instruments is coming to the Offshore Technology Conference this year, May 2 – 5, 2016. I had a chance to speak with their staff in a pre-conference discussion. Here is what they had to say.
There is plenty of talk these days around IoT technologies. How do you see IoT technologies impacting the O&G industry?
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies look to improve business decisions through increased access to operational data, intelligent software analytics, and distributed processing from the edge to the cloud. For the O&G industry this means improved efficiency, quality, or yield, from upstream to down. As a specific example, note how expensive downtime is for oil production operations. The infrastructure is massive and expensive to operate, yet can be brought to a halt by an outage on a single piece of critical equipment. Just like the IoT has put an intelligent computing device into the pockets of billions of people, the Industrial IoT is mounting an intelligent computing device to the millions of critical pumps, motors and other assets in the field. By continuously monitoring vibration, temperature, power consumption, and RPMs, these intelligent devices help determine the point at which rotating equipment statistically will fail. Using this data and early warning alarms, maintenance engineers plan routine service during normal downtime, rather than have unplanned downtime. This is known as predictive maintenance and has traditionally been performed with hand-held equipment on a route, but a lot can happen between the monthly or weekly routes. Online condition monitoring packages and Industrial IoT technology help maximize uptime. NI InsightCM™ Enterprise Software is an example of a system that consists of intelligent hardware nodes near the assets to acquire sensor data and process trigger conditions. It also has powerful backend server that aggregates and analyzes the data from hundreds or thousands of assets in the field.
I saw your last announcement of the updates to NI InsightCM™. What’s the short version of what’s new and why people should care?
With the latest update, we continue to add measurement capability to our monitoring platform. The latest version of NI InsightCM™ can measure power and motor current signatures to help maintenance engineers see more of what is going on with an asset. Additionally, we released a software development kit (SDK) so users and contractors in our alliance partner network can modify the system to incorporate non-NI hardware. Furthermore, the SDK can tie the data into any of a number of enterprise software systems (SCADA/Historians) that are not already supported by NI. Either way, customers of NI InsightCM™ are the customers that care about maximizing their uptime through predictive health maintenance of critical assets.
Where do you think IoT is in terms of adoption in industry?
We think that industry is somewhere in early adopter’s phase – visionary leaders of respective industries using Industrial IoT solutions to solve the more complex problems and improve efficiency, quality, and yield. Organizations like the Industrial Internet Consortium and Industrie 4.0 are driving investment in R&D for these technologies, which in turn lowers costs, and thus, makes these technologies more attractive to the majority of entities that may not be as visionary.
Tell me about some of the technology demonstrations you are taking to OTC this year.
NI has three technology demos that are all built using the same rugged controller platform: CompactRIO. It’s similar to a PLC, but generally more rugged and higher performance.
- Rugged Controller Demo: Affectionately referred to as “shake and bake”, this exhibit combines an oven with a shaker table and demonstrates the rugged operating specifications to which NI CompactRIO is designed. Advanced processing and control doesn’t always happen in clean environments and cRIO is built to handle the rigor of off-highway, remote, extreme installations common in O&G rig applications.
- Asset/Pump Monitoring: Unplanned downtime of equipment such as pumps and motors can be costly. Periodic checks of asset health do help but leave openings between checkups for premature breakdown. In this technology demo, NI, HPE, PTC, and Flowserve have assembled a pump health monitoring system based on Industrial IoT technologies to improve asset health visibility and reduce unplanned work stoppage. This is a demonstration of the example we talked about earlier. Imagine a pump that sends you a text message when it needs service.
- Lime Instruments Control: This demo from Lime Instruments shows rugged CompactRIO controllers as they are seen in the field – a frac pump control system from Lime Instruments, a Houston-based global provider of electrical rig-up services for land-based oil rigs, as well as leading-edge controls and instrumentation for the energy industry.
5.) What do you see as the future state for IoT in O&G?
Right now, Industrial IoT applications for O&G, and most industries, are brownfield applications installed as retrofits to existing systems: using sensors, gateways, and edge computing nodes. I think in the future, these technologies will merge and be more commonplace in new (off the shelf assets) systems and infrastructure. Additionally, much of the technology will shift to the software (IT) realm than in the hardware (OT) realm.
National Instruments is exhibiting at the Offshore Technology Conference, booth #2301. Lime Instruments is co-located in the same booth and conducting live demonstrations. Stop by and see them.
Richard Carranza, www.richardcarranza.com