Information Management Essential to Efficient Facilities
The amount of data within industry continues to grow. Information management is a significant challenge, but it provides an opportunity for improved project performance.
With the continual development of new technologies aimed at making exploration and production more efficient, oil and gas projects have become troves of data. For facilities engineers, design and construction teams, operators, and production managers, the data are essential in creating a digital ecosystem that can help them build more reliable platforms and facilities in the future. Information management is a significant challenge, but it provides an opportunity for improved project performance, an expert said.
In a webinar hosted by the SPE Gulf Coast Section Projects, Facilities, and Construction Study Group, Jim Crompton discussed the ways in which effective use of data may improve the efficiency and reliability of facility management. Crompton is the managing director at Reflections Data Consulting and a former senior adviser for upstream information technology at Chevron.
In the webinar, “Digital Facilities Engineering—No Document Left Behind,” Crompton defined the scope of a project’s facilities in terms of physical and digital assets. The physical assets include plants on a site, the equipment used to run those facilities, and any additional infrastructure. The digital assets are the documents, drawings, and models, as well as the data gleaned from the construction and operation of the physical facilities.
One of the key objectives operators face in managing facilities is the delivery of capital projects at a faster speed with an improved quality of production and lower construction costs. In addition, they must deal with a greater demand for improved sustainability and risk management under increasing regulatory pressure. But the increasing complexity of facilities design, poor asset information management, and the prohibitive costs of systems integration make these objectives difficult to achieve.
Another impediment to successful asset management is a project’s transition from the construction phase to the operations phase. Crompton said this process is often chaotic and inefficient, primarily because the contracts with engineering, procurement, and construction companies are not specific in requiring the provision of essential information in consistent formats that can be managed and entered into a project’s database. This inefficiency makes it difficult to integrate data across companies over the course of a project’s life cycle.
“This is the biggest information disaster,” Crompton said of the transition process. “We’re dealing with an engineering world that dealt with data in fundamentally different ways. You have people with adequate technologies that are just different.”
Crompton said the integration of data is more of a value driver with projects than the volume of data. To this end, he suggested that the development of a system of systems may help operators. Often used in the aerospace and military defense industries, a system of systems is a collection of dedicated constituent systems of data and other resources, gathered together into a larger, more complex system that offers clearer functionality.
Successful integration relies on a clear delineation of responsibilities for data management that Crompton said is lacking with projects.
“It isn’t that we don’t know who’s in charge. We know that no one is overlooking this data. Most of the time we get all of these systems, we glue them together. Integration is an afterthought. Security is an afterthought. Data access is a forlorn hope. So, we try to throw all these things together in the end instead of having them designed in,” he said.
Crompton said operators must bear the brunt of this responsibility. While they cannot be expected to develop every aspect of a data integration infrastructure, he said they must manage data with an eye toward building a system that works over the entire project life cycle.
Successful information management requires the early engagement of all of a project’s stakeholders and the early establishment of standards and procedures. Crompton said it is also important for operators to develop a constructive relationship with contractors and configure their applications to facilitate data consumption.
“Early on, you need to get all of the stakeholders together and say, ‘This is what I expect from you.’ You need to go in there and say these standards apply and these processes apply. It doesn’t mean everybody does everything the same way, but that everybody does things in a common way when they need to interact,” Crompton said. OGF
This webinar is available at https://webevents.spe.org/products/pfc-digital-facilities-engineering-no-document-left-behind.