BLOG: Connectivity Threatens to Hinder IoT in Energy Sector

BLOG: Connectivity Threatens to Hinder IoT in Energy Sector
While the energy industry pushes forward with newer technologies, there do lie some challenges.

The adoption of IoT (Internet of Things) solutions in the energy industry is just one aspect of a technology-driven strategy to run more efficient operations.

Research based off a survey conducted in May 2017 by global mobile satellite company Inmarsat finds that 47 percent (of 100 surveyed energy companies) said identifying cost-saving opportunities is one of their top priorities for deploying IoT, followed by improving health and safety (37 percent) and increasing automation (37 percent).

So why aren’t more energy companies deploying IoT strategies?

“Given the turbulence in the oil and gas market, there is a pressing need for energy companies to explore new technologies, such as IoT, to create efficiencies and save money,” Gary Bray, director of energy at Inmarsat Enterprise, told Rigzone. “But despite this, only 22 percent had fully deployed an IoT-based solution by the time of the study … I would have expected this to be slightly higher.”

The biggest challenge for those energy companies looking to deploy IoT is connectivity, Inmarsat also finds. Twenty-four percent cited connectivity issues as the biggest challenge, not too surprising considering the remote operations of the industry.

“For energy companies to access the full benefits of IoT, they must have reliable, robust communication networks that can gather data from remote, hostile environments and transmit it back to control centers for analysis,” said Bray.

He mentioned offshore platforms, remote land-based rigs and infrastructure may be outside the range of terrestrial networks.

“Use of satellite communications is the most straightforward way to address this challenge,” Bray said. “Energy businesses must look to satellite connectivity to gather the vital data that will optimize their operations and reduce their costs across the full chain of upstream activities.”

Another challenge organizations cited was integrating IoT technology with existing platforms.

“A big part of this relates to lack of skills, which hampers the use of the technology in the sector and its ability to harness the data generated by IoT solutions…” Bray said. “Seventy-one percent of energy respondents needed more skills at a management level to make effective use of IoT and 84 percent needed more skills at the delivery level. In addition, 45 percent lacked the data analysis skills to successfully exploit these technologies.”

Bray suggests working with experienced partners to address the skills gap would help, as well as focusing on upskilling and recruiting employees with the necessary skills to make IoT deployment a success.

Nearly half (48 percent) of energy respondents said the top benefit they expect to see from the deployment of IoT is, in fact, greater workforce productivity.


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