Artificial Intelligence’ role in oil and gas
The data bottleneck may be starving Artificial Intelligence from its full potential, yet AI usage in operations is accelerating.
It was not long ago end users were telling vendors to stop providing more data unless they can easily explain to them how it can be used to improve their bottom line. Perhaps Big Data got too big?
Enter artificial intelligence.
Now algorithms could devour gigabytes of data and make decisions to increase productivity, often finding unique approaches that traditional methods failed to find. Now with AI available, more data is key. So did the hesitation on big data five years ago slow development of devices with more data to give? Likely not.
Take smart process instrumentation like ultrasonic and Coriolis flow meters. Both offered a cornucopia of diagnostic information beyond just their primary measurement. Each vendor would talk about a ‘window into the process’ for decades. Before artificial intelligence became available, making use of all the information was limited to the knowledge of specific individuals or limited programs made available by those vendors. This made scaling the knowledge nearly impossible, and the true potential of the information within the diagnostics out of reach.
With all that data available already in instrumentation, now the hardest part was getting it all into the asset management system, DCS, or cloud and available to algorithms. Proprietary protocols, a patchwork of digital infrastructure, and rightfully placed concerns about security all created a choke point.
We are now seeing a revolution to meet the demand of AI.
Vendors are making smarter sensors and instrumentation with the flexibility to push data into the cloud. With wireless technology and standards like WirelessHART, integration and security can more easily be addressed, while bypassing the limited I/O wires. Lower power electronics and new technologies in low power sensors are also enabling traditional high powered devices, like NDIR gas detectors, to be fully wireless. In addition, two wire Ethernet, like HART IP, make use of existing copper to push more data from the field without adding significant capital and engineering costs. As the pipeline for data through the air or over wire becomes better, companies should be able to minimize the effort to get better information to have their artificial intelligence tools work more effectively.