***This article was featured on oilman magazine ***

The following are some specific oil and gas use cases (upstream, midstream, downstream or in oil field services) that illustrate how oil and gas companies can deploy IIoT technology more quickly, securely, cost-effectively and with higher output.

Compressor Condition-Based Maintenance

The oil industry can improve availability and lower maintenance costs by moving from a reactionary maintenance program to a proactive program. Historically, each asset had to be visited in person to obtain maintenance information. In many cases, operators are only able to get to an asset once every six months. Not only is this expensive, but the live visits run the risk of missing critical conditions. Moving to a proactive maintenance program requires the ability to monitor in near real-time the condition of the compressors such that compressor experts can remotely analyze the data and make recommendations. This is true for anywhere compressors are used in the upstream, midstream and downstream areas.

Third-Party Access

Many times, the owner/operator would like to use a third-party monitoring service to help maintain their assets. However, granting the third party access to the data on each asset without compromising the security of the process network was very difficult if not impossible in the past. The industry required a pull and play solution that allows owners/ operators the ability to quickly and safely grant access to third parties without compromising existing infrastructure. Paramount to this is the ability to manage those connections remotely. You don’t want to have to be required to make costly and time-consuming visits to the field in order to implement or manage the connections.

Artificial Lift

Owners/operators wish to increase their production and their EUR by optimizing their artificial lift program (ESP, rod lift, gas lift, etc.). But real-time optimization has not historically been cost-effective in many situations due to expensive devices and even more real-time SCADA networks. By moving an artificial lift to IIoT where one can use commodity hardware and commercial networks, you can optimize artificial lift with a very cost-effective solution. Critical to this is the ability to run the optimization software locally—without the need to construct a very expensive real-time network. Also imperative to the solution is the ability to download a customized machine learning model for that particular well in order to maximize its unique and particular situation.

Improve Process Efficiency & Reduce Cost

IIoT networks enable assets (sources of data) to share information with decision applications (sinks of data). For example, a third-party operational consultant can securely access wellhead asset data across all sites so as to recommend structural changes to current operations. The same IoT infrastructure can also enable the operational teams to continuously monitor multiple elements and make tactical improvements. This enables data from multiple firewalled process controlled networks to be securely transmitted to third-party applications for analyses and syntheses.

***the original article was from Emerson Exchange 365 Community***

The J. J. Pickle Research Campus is a collaboration between the University of Texas (UT) and industry, including Emerson Automation Solutions. The pilot plant was the first location to implement Emerson wireless, and its current focus is separations research, including the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from stack gas. The plant also uses Plantweb Optics to monitor plant controls on distillation, CO2 adsorption/stripping, liquid-liquid extraction, oil extraction from algae, and verification of separation.


The facility is also used for process scale-up and troubleshooting, and as a beta site for much of Emerson’s new technology. It has been running DeltaV distributed control system for 18 years, with 600 DSTs running several units, an M-series controller and I/O, S-series controllers and I/O, Electronic Marshalling, AMS Device Manager and machinery health monitoring, and more than 60 wireless HART devices, plus wired HART and Foundation Fieldbus devices, monitored by AMS Device View.

The plant runs with two electricians, one mechanic and a chemist. “Before Plantweb Optics, we’d come in, drink a lot of coffee and open up AMS Alert Monitor, DeltaV Explorer, Wireless Gateway Web Interface, Control Studio and DeltaV Operate to determine the health of the plant,” said Juan-Ramon Campos, instrument technician, electrician and operator. “If abnormal conditions existed, we’d use AMS, Valve Link, Insight, Control Studio and Process History to troubleshoot and determine the next course of action. After determining the problem, we’d head to field with a 475 [field communicator], multimeter, service manual and tools, and after correcting the problem, we’d return to the control room and use above mentioned programs to verify performance.”

Campos and co-presenters Tinh Phan, digital transformation solution architect, Emerson Automation Solutions, and Dhawal Tyagi, chief product officer, ioTium, spoke at the Emerson Global Users Exchange this week in San Antonio.

Remote support couldn’t stay away

“I was having to drive to J.J. Pickle for asset management, which was involving too many long days on the road,” said Phan. Emerson also needed to secure remote access into J.J. Pickle for diagnostics of DeltaV systems and wireless systems.

“We also wanted to do it for implementing new Emerson technologies. I couldn’t see remotely how the instruments were working and how information was being passed down,” Phan said. The project goals became:

  • Get real-time remote access for a view of plant reliability and operational performance.
  • Integrate multiple technologies for a holistic view of asset health and to support recommendations.
  • Have a secure, yet flexible architecture to interface and integrate with other platforms.

Security at the edge

“People need data for analysis from a lot of different pieces of equipment with different protocols,” said Tyagi. On cybersecurity, “The hackers are always two steps ahead, and nobody has a perfect system. You need layers like you have at home—a lock on the door and the valuables in a safe.”

Tyagi described two ways to deploy edge applications—on a cloud, or in the factory. “If you do it in the factory, you still have to get the data to the applications, so how do you connect it to the cloud? And if you try to keep it at the edge—in the factory—you need a Linux or Windows machine, you have to install it and maintain it, and you may need hundreds of them for different locations.”

Instead, to add a monitoring or control application, ioTium installs “iNodes” at the plant, and an “orchestrator” that can access the nodes. Nodes can be connected to private clouds at the company, third-party analytics, instrument vendor remote facilities, etc.

“The resulting private network is not part of the internet,” Tyagi said. “Each iNode is in isolation—any hack can only access one node, one network. You can minimize risk because you know the boundary of the attack.”

End run around IT

Emerson performed a proof of concept using iNodes in iOps, and tested it in Austin before deploying it at JJ Pickle. “We used Azure, ran an executable on AMS Device View, and immediately had a view,” Phan said. “We used a virtual iNode at J.J. Pickle and a hardware node at Emerson. We were able to avoid opening too many ports at J.J. Pickle, which UT IT would not have wanted.”

By securely connecting remotely to the control systems, Emerson is able to monitor all the smart instrumentation. “Before, they were fighting fires every day at the plant,” Phan said. They could commission many devices on a remote monitor and drill down through AMS Device View to see problems and calibration status. “But they still could not do everything on premises, and there was too much to do.

“Plantweb Optics showed a humungous amount of compromised devices that they can now fix—many low batteries, devices not running, etc. that they can repair or disable.”

From JJ Pickle’s point of view, “Installation went seamlessly,” Campos said. “Now we have a real-time capture of data without disrupting critical assets. I can access it from my house, see status, make a plan, and get a faster resolution of device problems from Emerson.”

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