September 2017
By Judy Marks, CEO of Siemens USA and CEO of the Dresser-Rand business

The fourth industrial revolution is the convergence of software and digital technologies with the industrial world. And this is why it’s here and real:

While previous industry revolutions gave industry new tools, the fourth revolution gives us new knowledge. Every day, the keeper of this knowledge – the internet of things – is adding five million new devices (we’ll go from today’s 8 billion connected devices to a trillion by 2030). Yet at the same time, the industrial world is still only in the very early stages of tapping into this new intelligence: While 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years, only a miniscule portion of this data has been analyzed or used.

So imagine an industry in which disruptive technologies are being rapidly commercialized and going online – all while every decision is data driven. When you look at it this way it’s easier to see how oil and gas companies, including offshore operations, could soon operate under entirely new business models.

This doesn’t mean that new business models need to emerge overnight. The first step, simply, is to get connected.

Going digital isn’t an overhaul. It’s a journey. And at Siemens, we believe it’s also collaborative. That’s the spirit in which we recently unveiled our new vision to help offshore oil and gas operations begin a pathway to becoming fully digital enterprises: Topsides 4.0.

Topsides 4.0 is a partnership. We work with customers in the early conceptual and design phase of a project and continue through the build phase and after deployment. Everything happens in a virtual environment to enable digital project management and manufacturing, as well as virtual testing and commissioning. Then, in the end, we deliver the customer an intelligent digital twin that can interpret raw data. It also can be used to provide site training for employees virtually before a site even exists.

Topsides 4.0 was designed with the present in mind, too – a market and price environment some now call “lower forever.” Our intent was to increase efficiency and profits by reducing project cycle time and unplanned downtime, including by increasing offshore manning for operations and asset monitoring.

Another big advantage is predictive maintenance. For Aker BP’s Ivar Aasen offshore project off the Norwegian coast, for example, Siemens delivered digital performance analytics to reduce the platform’s physical manpower and optimize equipment maintenance schedules.

So far, midsized FPSOs using Topsides 4.0 have reduced overall project cycle times by between three to nine months while reducing CAPEX by up to $15 million. Right now we’re also estimating reductions of more than $100 million OPEX over a 10-year period.

Here’s something else that’s unique about having a data-driven, digital enterprise:

Previously, CAPEX expenditures into a superior technology might have provided a significant boost to safety, productivity or efficiency – but that gain was one-time and static. On the other hand, with digital, all of these gains can grow continuously over time as operators gain more knowledge.

This is another example of why collaboration is mission critical. Reaping the full benefits of the digital transformation will require new alliances focused on remaking our industry. Specifically, we need an open data ecosystem in which various stakeholders share data.

When we deliver customers their digital twin, its data and its knowledge is theirs. Yet this data and knowledge can be shared and transferred to our digital services platform where we can provide additional decision support. With that, we can monitor their sites and share those insights, but we also can share what we learn from monitoring our entire global installed base.

For now, oil and gas companies still typically prefer to keep operational technology data inside their own IT firewall. We hope we can help change this culture while ensuring data security and honoring the need to protect our customers’ confidential information from industry competitors.

Our view is: let’s keep out hackers. But let’s also trust each other as we forge ahead together in a new spirit of collaboration.

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