PoE Solutions for the Oil and Gas Industry
The oil and natural gas industries are two of the largest industries in the world and both continue to play a major role in the global energy economy. This is a complex field that, at its core, relies on a healthy mix of traditional and innovative processes. The complex systems of exploring, transporting, and refining oil and gas are highly complex, and ripe for innovation. Power over Ethernet (PoE) solutions for the oil and gas industry will play a major role in future building efficiencies.
Oil and gas industries are closely linked because so many aspects of these industries are very similar and overlapped. With the emergence of renewable energy sources, both industries have taken strides in recent years to minimize their negative environmental effects through improved efficiencies and processes. The industry is best segmented into three groups, each with unique roles:
- Upstream, which includes the initial exploration and production of both oil and gas from the earth.
- Midstream, which includes transportation and mid-point storage of the materials before refinement.
- Downstream, which includes refining the materials for end-user use and marketing to sell oil and gas.
Each of these segments requires components that can deliver high performance, reliability, and security even while operating under conditions considered extreme in other industries. Power and infrastructure systems need to be able to support 24/7 operations in sometimes extreme temperatures while still offering a high degree of reliability and redundancy.
Fortunately, technology has made major strides to support these needs in recent decades. This guide will explore technology trends that are revolutionizing the oil and gas industry and provide a closer examination of how one of these trends – PoE technology—can be especially beneficial for building network and power infrastructures that support upstream, midstream, and downstream operations.
Top 5 Solutions for Revolutionizing the Oil and Gas Industry
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence has made fast inroads in a wide range of industries, with market projections topping $1.5 trillion by 2030 at a nearly 40% annual growth. It’s no surprise, then, that the oil and gas industry can benefit significantly from this technology’s promise.
Most obviously, AI-enabled analysis can help build a database forecasting picture based on just a few historical variables. This allows logistics teams and planners to make more accurate predictions of anything from production capacities in the upstream segment to market demand in downstream areas. In the midstream sector, AI can help better plan inventories and transportation to minimize overlaps and maximize efficiencies.
Evidence is mounting that the oil and gas industry is already using AI, specifically in the context of data science, to optimize its procedures at every end of the refining process. Machine learning enables technicians and planners alike to dynamically make sense of the exponential growth of data, reducing the potential for errors and identifying potential issues before they begin. AI can even use geological patterns to predict new production and exploration opportunities, increasing ROI at every end of the industry.
2. Big Data and Analytics
Aided at least in part by artificial intelligence, analytics has become a hot topic in industries like oil and gas. The amount of data available to analyze for actionable insights is growing every day, and this can quickly become confusing or overwhelming when attempting to manually interpret data. In-depth analytics solutions help managers and analysts make sense of complex data sets, improving their ability to make the appropriate core business decisions.
As the Journal of Petroleum Technology points out, the oil and gas industry has a problem with unstructured data:
80% of employee time in the industry is spent looking through unstructured data in order to inform decisions to get work done. The International Data Corporation puts that number at 30% across all industries, so oil and gas are spending nearly three times the general average searching their own documents for information so that they can get their work done. Four out of every five working days in the industry are devoted to researching unstructured data.
Implementing the correct platforms and analytics solutions can help to increase efficiencies, turning vast streams of unstructured data related to production and performance into more tangible insights. For example, big data analytics can help engineers understand where transportation mechanisms are ineffective, creating better alternatives that consume less resources and reduce carbon emissions.
Unstructured data, of course, flows into the oil and gas industry at every step of the process. Exploration surveys will uncover as much information as transportation patterns or oil refineries. Making sense of this data and identifying improvement opportunities is vital to improve efficiencies, build better strategies, and improve ROI across the value chain.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
Imagine a world in which every device used in the industry, every piece of equipment, can provide information about its use and efficiencies. Thanks to the Internet of Things making significant inroads into the oil and gas industry, we’re getting closer to that reality.
IoT depends on devices becoming ‘smart’ and thus, able to communicate information about their use. These devices can also become interconnected, creating a network of information that adds to the data stream available for potential insights. By nature, that data is unstructured, but the business opportunities of IoT in oil and gas really begin to shine when combined with big data analytics.
In the oil and gas industry, IoT is already used to remotely monitor and optimize production and enhance worker safety. Sensors placed in wells, choke valves, and other pieces of equipment monitor output while also acting as early warning systems against blowouts and other hazards. Finally, data from IoT devices can identify and quickly replace faulty equipment.
4. Robots and Automation
The oil and gas industry is widely acknowledged as one of the most hazardous occupational fields, especially in upstream and midstream operations where handling dangerous raw materials in dangerous conditions is an everyday occurrence. Any technology designed to minimize these hazards can significantly impact everything from worker safety to liability reduction.
It’s no surprise, then, that automation has grown in the industry in recent decades. In particular, deploying robotics at some of the most hazardous points in the extraction process can keep workers safe and improve working conditions for everyone in the pipeline.
The benefits of robotics and automation also extend beyond basic safety. In the right situations, they can significantly improve the efficiency of repetitive operation while at the same time reducing the potential for human error. Inspections taken on by robots or remotely via drones can access difficult-to-reach areas and provide a more comprehensive picture of the environment.
This productivity increase combines with improved safety to make robotics a natural technology on the rise in the oil and gas industry. From surveying to refining raw materials, the potential automation can bring is almost limitless.
5. Cloud Computing
Another compelling technological trend in the oil and gas industry is the question of how best to store all the smart data and analytics that is now flowing in. Local storage capacity is increasingly unable to handle the massive amounts of data, making cloud computing a perfect complement to the increasing data streams.
Data stored in the cloud frees up local servers and computing power. It also ensures redundancy through easier backup that reduces the potential for downtime and data loss. No wonder, then, that in a world where terabytes of data are no longer unusual, cloud computing has become the norm.
In the oil and gas industry specifically, cloud technology and software can significantly enhance operational efficiencies. It also improves scalability, enabling managers and corporations to scale up without worrying about the space needed for the extra data. Tools native to the cloud are accessible from anywhere, confirming the increasingly distributed access needs of organizations operating across the globe.
PoE Solutions in the Oil and Gas Industry
While these technology trends undoubtedly have the potential to bring massive advantages to the oil and gas industry, their implementation is still an important consideration. Moving to IoT or automated operations is not as simple as flipping a switch. These changes require a comprehensive re-thinking of your technology infrastructure. That’s where Power-over-Ethernet (short for PoE), enters the equation.
What is Power over Ethernet (PoE)?
Put simply, PoE describes the ability to send both data and electricity through a single Ethernet cable. Instead of having separate cabling infrastructure for data and power, this technology combines the two while simultaneously eliminating the need for a WiFi connection to grant internet or data access to a device.
PoE is most commonly applied in low-wattage devices like phones, security cameras, and wireless access points, but recent advancements like PoE+ and PoE++ can also support higher wattages.
How Does PoE Work?
Modern Ethernet cables labeled Cat5 include four pairs of wires. However, only half of these wires are typically in use when transferring data through an ethernet connection. PoE devices can use the other two wire pairs to draw power through the same line that transmits the data. Because power and data require different frequencies, they won’t interfere with each other and each safely and reliably transmit needed currents to the end-point device.
What are the Benefits of PoE?
The potential benefits of PoE are extensive. Installation costs tend to be lower because of the decreased need for cabling or connections to main power outlets. That means even the exterior conditions of the oil and gas industry will not require power infrastructure or a qualified electrician to deliver electricity to end-point devices.
In addition, an already dangerous industry will benefit from the decreased electrical hazards that PoE brings, thanks to the simpler installation and reduced need for power adapters. Power outages and electrical overloads have also become less common.
Reliance on a single cable means flexibility and scalability increase significantly. Devices become plug-and-play, are able to be moved more easily, and won’t be dependent on electrical outlets. The scope of the network can increase rapidly as a result, including the ability to install IoT devices that can use the same cord leveraged for electricity to transmit their data.
How PoE Can Accommodate the Special Demands of the Oil and Gas Industry
The above-mentioned benefits of PoE can apply to nearly any field, but the technology is especially relevant to the oil and gas industry for a few important reasons. Devices and technology must operate in harsh conditions, operating around the clock and in temperatures ranging from -40 to 75° C without loss of reliability or redundancy.
Needs may include networking for monitoring an offshore drilling platform upstream. This might focus on transmitting field site drilling data onshore or keeping the pressure in the pipeline consistent midstream. Or, perhaps a refinement plant downstream needs to be monitored for consistent and optimum performance levels.
PoE technology can sustain all of these and many other related needs, regardless of how harsh the conditions might be. PoE devices, from switches to injectors, can be industrialized to withstand corrosion, vibration, and even the harshest temperatures. Reliability is a key component of making technology work in this industry, and the right PoE technology can ensure that reliability.
Leverage Technology Enhancements With a Reliable PoE Partner
Technology has become a ubiquitous topic of conversation in the oil and gas industry, and the right PoE technology gives your organization the potential to leverage all of its best components; whether you’re looking to optimize operations upstream, midstream, downstream, or all of the above.
Of course, you shouldn’t simply purchase the first PoE product you find and hope for the best. Instead, you’ll need a trustworthy manufacturer who can become your partner in selecting devices that can withstand even the most hazardous and harsh environments.
That’s where Versa Technology enters the equation. We sell industry-leading PoE products designed to help you get your technology stack where it needs to be, and we can help you expand your technological capabilities in the process. Ready to learn more? Contact us to start the conversation.