Rockwell Automation, Schlumberger partner on oil & gas solutions

Nov. 19, 2019
Sensia’s Neil Enright explained how the group has turned insights into actions.

“To create an insight is one thing, but you must create an action from the insight.” Sensia’s Neil Enright explains how the partnership leverages technology and domain expertise at Automation Fair in Chicago.

A singular focus often brings clarity and simplification to an otherwise complex issue. When Rockwell Automation and Schlumberger combined forces to form Sensia, the two organizations easily could have run aground with added weight and a cumbersome merging of cultures. But the recipe for the partnership included 500 people with automation expertise and 500 people with field-operations expertise, putting their minds to work exclusively on oil & gas industry optimization.

“We are the unification of sensing, intelligence and action,” explained Neil Enright, vice president, sales and marketing, at Sensia, which focuses solely on the oil & gas industry. “We’ve adopted a philosophy of simplicity. We provide a solution at its base form to release value for our customers.” Enright shared his organization’s vision during the Perspectives media event at Automation Fair this week in Chicago.

Sensia has brought together about 1,000 oil & gas professionals, operating as 11 legal entities and a presence in more than 80 countries to combine competencies and create “irreducibly simple solutions.”

“In the oil & gas industry, automation has existed for a long time,” explained Enright. “We’ve been providing automation across the value chain for many years. We have installed many systems, but there remain islands of information. Sensia is able to connect those isolated systems for productivity gains.”

The oil & gas market is facing a number of challenges, including price volatility, lack of available talent in geographic areas and companies’ desires to increase capacity while decreasing the capital to do it, said Enright.

Sensia’s customers want to not only increase production with reduced costs, but also accelerate time to first oil, maximize use of existing assets and improve safety, he explained.

“Automation is critical to facilitating the journey of digital transformation,” said Enright. “To enable that, we can provide data from disconnected systems to operators and help them to deploy the correct resources or improve the process. We have the capability to deliver process manufacturing solutions.”

Insights become actions

Automation solutions, measurement solutions, digital solutions and lift-control systems are the core of Sensia’s offerings, putting intelligence into action via a four-stage process: sense, think, control, optimize.

“We take sensor information and analyze it using domain expertise,” said Enright. “We manage the process, and we continually improve performance. To create an insight is one thing, but you must create an action from the insight.”

If you want to prevent a production interruption or critical failure, the length of time from detection to action needs to be in seconds or milliseconds, not hours or days, said Enright, who offered two use cases.

Real-time surveillance optimization was the first, monitoring potentially damaging events in real time and using augmented-reality technology to enhance operator visibility. The operator has the ability to prevent further deterioration of equipment or unplanned shutdowns and improve both equipment run-life and production uptime.

Another example was an integrated blending system. “Blending systems are a key to successful operation of maritime terminals in the United States,” explained Enright. “Blending operations are usually manual, introducing delays and potential errors. An integrated, automatic blending system improves speed and accuracy of transfers, resulting in increased operations profitability.”

Sensia turns sensing into intelligence, which then becomes action, specifically for the oil & gas industry. “It’s seamless, plug-and-play automation at any scale, anywhere in the world,” said Enright. “Operations become simpler and safer, no matter where customers are in their digital journeys.”