The concept of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has long been touted as the key to making oil and gas operations more efficient, safe and environmentally sound, with increased productivity and labor cost-savings. The IIoT involves sensing, communications and analytics capabilities, where data is captured by sensors, transmitted over a network, and analyzed by computers, typically in the cloud. Information is then sent to end users to make faster, more informed operational decisions. Osperity is using AWS cloud services as a platform for our services.
It is clear that with the emergence of enabling technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence, the IIoT represents a truly revolutionary opportunity for the industry. IIoT has the potential to allow oil and gas companies to massively improve worker productivity while ensuring safety and environmental compliance.
Video Analytics – Intelligent Visual Monitoring
One emerging technology that is adding value to IIoT deployments is intelligent visual monitoring, where video streams are captured from internet-connected cameras and automatically analyzed by video analytics to look for anomalies, such as leaks or suspicious activity. According to Mckinsey (1), “Some of the most innovative Internet of Things (IoT) applications involve video analytics — a technology that applies machine-learning algorithms to video feeds, allowing cameras to recognize people, objects, and situations automatically. These applications are relatively new, but several factors are encouraging their growth, including the increased sophistication of analytical algorithms and lower costs for hardware, software, and storage.”
Osperity is delivering intelligent visual monitoring solutions to the oil and gas industry today. Osperity’s platform captures video from a large number of cameras across a company’s operations. It then analyzes this data with artificial intelligence which automatically detects activity or equipment anomalies from images and video. It also correlates data from other sensors and systems, for greater context and reliability. End users can then be notified on events of interest by creating personalized alerts and reports.
Exception Based alerting – The Key to Success
Clients use intelligent visual monitoring technologies to understand vehicle and people activity at remote sites. By accurately detecting vehicles and/or people and sending summary reports or alerts to remote users, companies can increase site security, monitor lone workers and verify contractor work by matching time on site with invoices. In these scenarios, it is critical to ensure fewer false alerts, so that the users will trust the system. In order to reduce false alerts, Osperity uses a two-stage process, where video analytics are used to detect movement, and images from the motion event are then analyzed with an algorithm to confirm the presence of a vehicle or person. This process greatly reduces the false alerts associated with video analytics in outdoor environments. Exception-based alerts are then sent to users that have subscribed to these types of events. As such, users get alerts that are accurate and actionable.
Correlate Visual Data with SCADA
As a key part of a broader IIoT ecosystem, it’s important that the data from visual monitoring be correlated with data from other sensors and systems, to give organizations a greater understanding of their operations, without dealing with multiple screens, applications and datasets. For example, a company may receive an alert from a SCADA system indicating that a tank level has suddenly dropped. Adding an image of that tank to the SCADA alert will quickly allow the operator to identify the cause of the drop – whether it’s due to a leak or the presence of a tanker truck taking on fuel. This integrated view can be presented in the SCADA software interface or in the visual monitoring system itself.
Monitor Remotely Instead of In-Person
Another use case is to remotely monitor equipment, infrastructure and unmanned sites, rather than performing in-person site inspections. Users are able to do a site tour by controlling a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera through a menu of pre-set locations, and view and report on multiple assets. This solution allows for multiple assets to be monitored by a single, specialized camera. Remote online inspections allow companies to significantly improve productivity, while increasing safety and reducing emissions by cutting the need to drive to site. Automated inspection reports can also be set up and pushed to the user on a schedule set by the client. The information can then be easily shared for collaboration and work prioritization. Osperity’s platform is also used for environmental protection, HSE and improved regulatory compliance.
Detect Leaks, Monitor Flare Stacks with Thermal Imaging
Visual monitoring systems can also operate in thermal and infrared spectrums, allowing users to see things that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. For example, thermal cameras can detect temperature changes, which could indicate equipment overheating or an injection well leaking fluid. Users can then be alerted to these condition changes and act accordingly.
Clients also use Osperity to monitor flare stacks to make sure they are burning properly. If a problem is detected an alert will immediately be sent to stakeholders, enabling an inspection audit trail and increasing the ease and accuracy of incident reporting to regulatory bodies. Infrared imagery can be used to monitor poorly lit sites at night, and to detect the presence of methane and other gasses through specialized optical gas imaging cameras. This data can then be used to pinpoint the source of leaks and to prioritize repairs.
Connectivity in the Field
IIoT and visual monitoring cannot operate efficiently without connectivity out in the field, where internet can be expensive and hard to implement. To overcome this issue Osperity partnered with Infrastructure networks (INET). INET, based in Houston, owns its own private 4G/LTE wireless spectrum, running primarily over the 700MHz spectrum. This spectrum is unique in its ability to provide service over an area 4-10 times larger than other spectrums, allowing INET more control over quality, reliability and coverage in remote locations, where many oil and gas assets are located. Access to INET’s solution further enables Osperity to deliver accurate and timely data to users across the enterprise. INET is now working on bringing 5G to shale producers, which will greatly enhance connectivity and speed.
Video Analytics Can Only Improve from Here on
While video analytics and visual monitoring are helping drive the digitization of the oilfield today, the technology will continue to improve in performance and utility. With advances in connectivity, artificial intelligence, camera performance and cloud computing, intelligent visual monitoring will become even more powerful and cost-effective and will play a critical role in advancing the IIoT in the oil and gas industry.