30
Mar
2017

Impact of IoT (Internet of things) on the Energy Sector

No one has a crystal ball to see what the future will look like. The world continues to change rapidly and as Bill Gates put it: “innovation is moving at a scarily fast pace”. While the energy sector is no different it is nevertheless perceived as a traditionally conservative and slow to change. However, since 2014 the dramatic fall in both oil and gas prices (see below) by an average of 60%, driven by falling demand and excess supply, has left many companies struggling.  

Recently there has been an obvious change by energy companies in adapting to these new developments. As Bod Dudley, CEO of BP notes: “In the corporate world, history tells us that companies that fail to anticipate or adapt to new situations and new technologies fail to survive. On the other hand, companies with leading technologies are often the most competitive and successful.” (1)

A PWC survey (2) of leading global energy companies found that seeking capital efficiencies was amongst their highest priorities. Interestingly the same survey noted that almost one in three companies had commenced investment in IoT with a further third considering such investment.

Emerging technologies present business risks and opportunities for any industry. The energy sector is no exception. Although radical innovation and disruption in this industry are relatively infrequent, transformational change can take place – often within relatively short timeframes and with dramatic consequences.

Trends and innovations that are impacting on the world of energy are not only being driven by unit prices but also by geopolitical tensions; terrorism; cybersecurity concerns; regulatory changes; talent shortages, rising costs, and capital constraints.

Communications technology is a vital (and often overlooked) link between these (new) IoT developments at source (where the activity is happening) and at the end (where the activity is being reviewed and managed). Significant investment has been underway by energy companies across the globe at their source platforms that, for example, gathers real time information, process controls and performance and safety statistics. At the other end the gathering of this data (remotely) allows monitoring and troubleshooting, provides 24-hour support, reduces costs, improves efficiencies increases system security and allows installations to remain unmanned for long periods of time without concerns being raised over safety, integrity or production. Without an efficient communication link the speed and reliability on this process breaks down.

Diagram The remote monitoring process:

Vilicom’s IoT solutions link both ends of the process. As an independent system integrator, we select the optimal platform and hardware to deliver clients’ voice, data, video and M2M communications needs.  Our engineers use technologies such as LTE, VSAT, IP, digital microwave and 802.1x to create solutions that are tailored, scalable, secure, reliable and monitored on a 24/7/365 basis that are designed to meet relevant fire, safety and cyber security standards.

Our solutions, focused around communication speed and reliability, allow clients to significantly increase operational efficiency, leverage the power of data-analytics for new insights, improve field-force safety and reduce costs.

– Adrian

References:

1)     Bob Dudley (CEO, BP)

2)     PwC, “Driving Value,” Thought Leadership, 2013. 2-5 PwC Energy Executive Series Webcast Survey, 2015.