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Lessons learned along the way: Key insights for oil and gas when building connectivity platforms

For the oil and gas industry, the benefits of digital transformation through a private cellular network are clear – but getting there can be tricky. On a recent webinar, Ericsson experts shared few key lessons for building the connectivity solutions needed for a successful digital transformation.

Vice President of Industry and Partnership – Energy, Ericsson

Head of Dedicated Networks, Ericsson, South-East Asia, ANZA & India

Key insights for oil and gas when building connectivity platforms

Vice President of Industry and Partnership – Energy, Ericsson

Head of Dedicated Networks, Ericsson, South-East Asia, ANZA & India

Vice President of Industry and Partnership – Energy, Ericsson

Contributor (+1)

Head of Dedicated Networks, Ericsson, South-East Asia, ANZA & India

As the oil and gas industry faces several ongoing challenges, the sector continues to undergo a major transformation. The industry is under immense pressure to deliver on their commitment to reduce their CO2 footprint and reach net zero emissions. Also, workers are in short supply, and many of the current workforce are posed to retire in the next few years.

As a key solution to increase operational efficiency, uphold environmental concerns and improve safety and retention of workers, digitalization is top-of-mind.

A reliable and secure connectivity infrastructure can be leveraged to overcome these obstacles – but it needs to be a seamless, powerful and secure solution. In the past, connectivity has too often been patchy and unreliable, and without reliable connectivity, the implementation of digital tools and programs has been delayed.

Lessons for a successful transformation

The benefits of digital transformation for oil and gas companies are clear – but putting digitalization plans into action can be a challenging process. As Ericsson works with companies to build cellular networks, we’re learning lessons about the process along the way.

  1. Engage with trusted partners early in your journey: With the oil and gas industry, we’re talking about harsh, complex environments, and building strong partnerships is key in successfully implementing of digital transformation. Oil and gas companies prefer to go through preliminary deployment and start with simple use cases before diving into more advanced tools. Conducting workshops before production, actively considering and reacting to challenges or questions, and strong collaboration can help ensure a seamless implementation process.
  2. Prioritize deployments: Connectivity deployments are typically low on the list of priorities for many of these environments – which means every time there’s an issue with a previous priority, connectivity gets deprioritized. For successful transformation to occur and to achieve the harmony between operational technology (OT) and IT functions that will drive real change, connectivity needs to become the top priority. Fortunately, upon the adoption of private networks, the transition from 4G to 5G follows a seamless evolution path, allowing for the effortless implementation of new technologies in the future.
  3. Consider the number of devices on the ecosystem: As devices like tablets started to replace pen and paper notebooks at oil and gas facilities, early versions of the technology were hampered by spotty connectivity. When workers would move between areas, they’d lose connections between Wi-Fi points or be cut off entirely in “dead zones,” forcing them to go back to the central office – and defeating the point of the devices entirely. Another major feature of early digitalization efforts in this industry were cameras, and deployment there is limited by cabling availability and maintenance. Cellular connectivity platform addresses both these issues, by providing a blanket coverage for indoor and outdoor for workers and cameras. Thus, companies no longer need to consider where to place devices because the coverage and bandwidth is available everywhere.
  4. Architecture and capabilities are the foundation for success: When transport issues arise, the answer is often in the type of architecture being used. Oil and gas enterprises have unique needs, from a massive amount of bandwidth on the uplink for video heavy applications (remote control of assets, robotics, AR headsets, cameras), coverage for sprawling facilities, and the ability to connect to remote areas. In designing an ecosystem that works, these operations need reliable partners for their entire digital transformation journey – not just for one project. This will ensure consistency across facilities and operations.

Moving forward with strong partnerships and rigorous testing

Addressing the challenges of the industry requires building a cellular network that solves today’s needs while building a platform for the future. Collaborating with partners to address these pain points prior to deployment is key. One partner in environment. Additionally, comprehensive testing and verification was implemented on devices at Ericsson’s Global Utilities Innovation Center before deployment in the field. For mission-critical environments, companies need to ensure every device and sensor being used undergoes testing and verification.

Aside from delivering the core technology, Ericsson actively engages with customers at various stages, ensuring the delivery of comprehensive solutions throughout their transformation journeys. Establishing a co-innovation network comprised of customers, partners, startups, venture capitalists and more paves the way to collectively ideate and pilot innovative technologies. In establishing a connectivity platform, it’s important to bring confidence and credibility to the table while fostering collaboration between communication service providers (CPSs) and global technology partners at the same time ensuring the process remains seamless. The technology behind 5G connectivity is important – but it is equally important to effectively implement new technologies that are built on that foundation.

5G cellular networks will power continued growth

With 4G, we began to see progress through tools like real-time monitoring and surveillance. 5G brings even more reliability, increased, built-in security, and lower latency, offering a pathway to superior mobility performance and capabilities that enable industrial automation. It also eliminates the need for multiple connectivity access points, which paves the way for industrial platforms that include tools like AR, drones, cameras and more.

With 5G private networks, oil and gas operators can deliver a substantial triple bottom line that includes improved safety for workers and more responsible environmental impact. And with secure, reliable connectivity, customers can increase efficiency and find new revenue streams. Digital transformation is paramount to the continued growth of the oil and gas sector, and the right partner is key to unlocking the power of connectivity. 

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