Oil IT Journal interview—IT Vizion CEO Darren Steele

Darren Steele (CEO) and Mario Brenes (CTO) talk to Oil IT Journal about moving downstream information management to the upstream, their association with Siemens, when ‘closing the loop’ from measurement to control is feasible, and about their new standalone software tools.

How did your involvement with Siemens begin?

DS—The pioneering operations intelligence platform XHQ was developed by IndX, Mario was part of the original team. I joined after Siemens acquired IndX. Today our Vizion Packs for XHQ incorporate best practice and domain knowledge obtained in the downstream and, increasingly the upstream. We transform raw data into XHQ, our ‘bread and butter.’ We are Siemens’ first official XHQ partner and are now developing our own stuff, to plug gaps in the oil and gas data landscape.

What gaps you are trying to fill?

DS—There is usually a big time lag between RT data and monthly or quarterly reporting, by which time operational damage may be done. At the corporate level, there is often a gap between strategy and operations. Big issues like energy costs may be hard to track with current tools. In maintenance, while predictive analytics packages can give early warning of failure, there may be a gap in deciding on the best course of action. A KPI/dashboard may show say ‘54% green,’ or a fancy pie chart, but this is not actionable information. Our solution lets users set targets and figure the value of different actions. KPI/KOPs need to be ranked by importance. We are data source agnostic and our experience allows us to set up and maintain these complex data linkages.

What about hard to capture data?

MB—We can access pretty well anything. We can talk to historians, relational sources or hand-entered data, all of which can be combined to an optimal KPI.

DS—We have been working on an energy intensity index, calculated in real time from multiple systems and allowing for comparison across units and with industry best practices.

Do folks really run operations by looking at KPIs? Aren’t there opportunities to feedback your RT results into what’s driving the plant?

DS—I am a big fan of closing the loop, leveraging operations intelligence and turning data into actionable information. For instance we can do analytics to identify equipment ‘bad actors’ (EBA) where replacement capex is less than maintenance cost. Then we can roll in the risk of unplanned outages and manufacture say, the top five EBAs, and publish a work request for their replacement as action items. Some tasks need to be automated. Some areas are not amenable to a truly closed loop.

So where is this tool running? On the platform or in head office?

MB—It will be running in head office, reading data from a central maintenance historian. But it could feed back to systems on the platform, say telling operators where they are in the big picture, showing emerging trends such as HSE indicators.

DS—HSE is an interesting area. Often indicators are lagging, based on near misses and incident counts. We provide leading indicators as a matrix showing performance of different parts of the business and where the next ‘perfect storm’ may be brewing! We can then plug into HR/training systems and show violations, overdue work orders or where significant process disturbances or alerts are happening on one unit or shift. These leading indicators can show where the next high potential incident could occur and where action needs to be taken to reduce risks during normal operations.

Where’s your main competition? In-house development?

DS—That’s probably true. XHQ has 15 years of development and best practices behind it, some still want to develop their own stuff! The reality is that bespoke software will always be trailing-edge. We have put all our expertise into our tools. We developed and maintain the XHQ Starter Pack and Upstream Intelligence for Siemens. Our own Upstream Vizion Pack adds our view of industry best practices. Using these products avoids having a bus load of consultants working on bespoke development. We are also very familiar with data sources and we know where the data is. More from IT Vizion.

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