Phillips 66 Eyes 5G at Louisiana Refinery
Accenture and AT&T are teaming up with Phillips 66 to develop a private cellular network near the latter company’s refinery in Belle Chasse, La.
The private network’s industrial cellular wireless connectivity – designed to overcome performance gaps with the existing public cellular network near the New Orleans-area refinery – will facilitate deploying the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and other potential 5G-reliant installations, Accenture noted in a written statement last week.
Accenture also confirmed to Rigzone that such a potential 5G cellular system would be unprecedented in the U.S. refining industry and could open new refinery automation opportunities.
“Mobile applications are central to our day-to-day business activities – we use them for safety inspection forms for oil distillation units, capacity tracking and more – so connectivity is crucial to keeping our operations running,” commented Zhanna Golodryga, senior vice president, chief digital and administrative officer at Phillips 66.
According to Accenture, the private cellular network comprises a local cellular network that includes cell sites and core network servers that support the connectivity of a specific organization’s requirements. The firm added the private network was selected as a proof of concept to demonstrate the ability to handle increased mobile connectivity needs from ongoing Phillips 66 digital transformation efforts. It also stated that AT&T was chosen as the telecommunications provider to develop the necessary engineering for a dedicated cellular network.
“The results of the proof of concept are promising,” remarked Golodryga. “This private cellular network can address existing coverage gaps today and potentially lays the foundation for pervasive connectivity to enable upcoming use cases based on IIoT and 5G.”
Accenture noted that teams brought dedicated private cellular infrastructure onsite during the proof of concept and recorded speed improvements the refinery. The firm also stated the cellular reference signals showed the potential for improved signal strength at selected process units.
“Reliable connectivity is accelerating the business transformation and enabling companies to innovate faster than ever before,” stated Chris Penrose, senior vice president of advanced solutions with AT&T. “Our multi-access edge compute solution will help give Phillips 66 the control, performance and security they need from their private network today, while also giving them the flexibility to expand to their other locations in the future.”
Accenture pointed out that technical hurdles and sustainable engineering solutions still need to be worked out before the cellular option will be available for scale deployments while meeting refinery operational demands.
“The proof of concept of this private network will enable Phillips 66 to selectively deploy connectivity and enable future digital operations across the refineries,” concluded Mary Beth Gracy, Phillips 66 client account lead with Accenture. “We will also work with Phillips 66 to bring ecosystem partners to their private cellular network to give a complete end-to-end view of what is happening across the refineries and its supply chain, so that they can continue to innovate.”
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