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2021 ARC Industry Forum kicks off with virtual format

By: Anthresia McWashington

The 25th Annual ARC Industry Forum kicked off virtually this week, with a focus on “Accelerating Digital Transformation in a Post-COVID World.” Several sessions with speakers throughout the industry will be held throughout the week covering digital transformation, including AI machine and learning, blockchain for industry, digital twins and connected smart machines. 

With what companies have learned during the global health and economic crises, they are now re-thinking how to manage operations using shared data, analytics, distributed work, and digital twins.  The industry has passed a tipping point, having seen the power of disruptive technologies to transform business operations and competitive strategies, improve resilience, reduce costs, and better serve customers.   

This year’s theme was heavily emphasized during the event’s first keynote virtual session todayARC Advisory Group President and CEO Andy Chatha introduced speakers Nick Clausi, VP of Engineering, ExxonMobil and Alan Nelson, Chief technology Officer, ADNOC along with panelist, Craig Hayman, CEO, Aveva to discuss how they are leveraging new technologies and processes to transform their business and manufacturing operations. 

According to Clausi, ExxonMobil’s Open Process Automation (OPA) Program will unveil opportunities for a “step-change” in innovation. 

The vision for OPA can be condensed down to unlocking the ability to take real-time control actions using the latest algorithms and integrating a growing source of planned data to drive value.” 

Clausi further explained that in order to do this, a platform with a few key features would be necessary, including:  

  1. Enabling the use of application software from any supplier 
  2. Taking advantage of low-cost access to all data types 
  3. Leveraging state of the art computer power at the industrial edge 
  4. Being aligned upon industry standards to support security, interoperability and portability between components from different suppliers.  

Referencing the telecommunications and avionics industries, Clausi said that open standards-based architecture’s feasibility and value have been proven. ExxonMobil’s OPA Test Bed, with system integrator Yokogawa, contains hardware and software products from a variety of suppliers and is currently confirming readiness for both components and standards to support the system design for a future fuel trial.  

ADNOC’s Panorama Digital Command Center is “the gateway to our digital transformation” according to CTO Alan Nelson, who updated attendees on the technology’s progress. 

“It represents the single source of accurate and timely information across our entire value chain,” said Nelson.  “Panorama visualizes and streamlines our entire operations and our critical business information on a single 50 m video wall in one secure facility. It puts big data at the fingertips of our sharpest minds, and it enables us to uncover and recommend new pathways to optimize our assets and our infrastructure. 

Panorama was a key component of continuity for the firm during the Covid 19 pandemic, allowing for real-time reporting and monitoring system of Covid-19 cases. In addition, Nelson said the company developed an artificial intelligence platform that could predict Covid-19 cases and transmission across all ADNOC facilities.  

ADNOC announced completion of phase one of its predictive maintenance project rollout, in partnership with Honeywell, to maximize asset efficiency and integrity across its upstream and downstream operations. 

Continual use of these technologies post-Covid could pose benefits throughout the industry in regard to streamlining processes and safety measures, according to the panelists. Increasing market demand for digital technology could potentially drive innovation and help progress industry processes further.  

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