Alongside automation, digitalisation and the blockchain, the potential impact of machine learning is another hot technology topic du jour.
It is easy to be dismissive of the potential of what is essentially computer-managed pattern recognition; it is less easy to be dismissive of its results. These were made clear to InnovOil this month in discussions with Avitas Systems, a start-up founded recently within GE, with the aim of revolutionising the inspection market.
With our focus this month on asset integrity, and the solutions that may aid operators in assuring it, InnovOil was particularly interested in where inspection technologies – particularly the UAVs, AUVs and crawlers which make up Avitas’ offering – will lead the industry over the next few years. What in fact was surprising is where they are now.
While for many operators the novelty of using UAV asset inspection techniques may not yet have worn off, Avitas is already confident that UAVs are capable of flying themselves (guided by a highly accurate mission plan, of course). Using software and sensor packages available today, the company’s aim is to automate the inspection process completely, from inspection to reporting – and that has profound implications from an asset integrity perspective.
Using machine learning, the data gathered from these automated inspections can be very rapidly assessed, down to an astounding level of detail. Corrosion can be pinpointed and its severity identified down to the level of individual bolts, all within a matter of minutes.
With time and resources freed up, operators can also design more proactive maintenance plans. Rather than routine arbitrary inspections, smarter management will see resources applied to those assets which require attention, and less to those that do not. Moreover, the data collected on those assets will (ideally) be preserved and can be assessed over time, meaning owners build up a much better idea of their integrity and performance over their lifetime – all aided by machine learning (which too becomes more accurate the more patterns it sees).
The point here is that the solutions to many challenges are already here. It will now take leadership from operators and service providers to employ them if the industry is ever to realise its promised savings and efficiencies.
And plenty of solutions there are in this issue: from other asset integrity technologies like well clamps and subsea CT scanning, to the drilling of the world’s longest well in Russia, to 3D-printed marine steel and remote platform control rooms, the future is already upon us.
We are pleased to present the December issue of InnovOil.