Andre Rose, technical adviser at IMCA, discusses how the organisation is embracing digitalisation and helping others do the same
Digitalisation is one of two key strategic themes for IMCA, the other being environmental sustainability. Since its Annual Seminar in The Hague last November – when Boston Consulting Group gave a stimulating presentation on ‘The Digital Oilfield’ in which it stated: “The marine contracting industry will evolve, but it is unclear how” – IMCA has been looking at how to address this subject on behalf of its members. In recent months, IMCA has appointed a Digitalisation Committee drawn from its membership, and set a date for its first Digitalisation Seminar.
Digitalisation has brought us a variety of new terms and phrases, such as ‘digital twin’, ‘virtual, augmented and mixed reality’, and ‘blockchain’ among others. It has also been described as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. That revolution, which describes digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 3D printing and the Internet-of-Things (IoT), took centre stage at this year’s World Economic Forum’s annual Davos meeting. Now it is to play a key role within IMCA’s work programme.
Digitalisation is already changing the way we work and is set to accelerate change by enabling training and upskilling of workers by means of disruptive technology, a term used to refer to any enhanced or completely new technology that replaces and disrupts an existing technology, rendering it obsolete. An example would be virtual reality glasses, which enable an individual to work through a task they are not familiar with by visually following step-by-step guidance.
Sophisticated simulators will enable specialists throughout our industry to undertake tasks without leaving their offices, bringing positive cost and efficiency benefits. IMCA’s Digitalisation Committee, comprised of representatives from DOF, Fugro, Heerema Marine Contractors, McDermott, Saipem and TechnipFMC, has been tasked with researching and investigating disruptive technologies and assessing their impact on our industry.
The Committee’s key objectives include:
The Committee will play a key role in raising awareness among members and will highlight the impact these new technologies are likely to bring to people, training, operations and general ways of working. Undoubtedly, the potential impact on safety will need to be managed very closely. Indeed, the Digitalisation Committee’s work will, over time, influence all of IMCA’s committees in one way or another. The Digitalisation Committee will ensure important knowledge is shared across all committees.
To raise awareness among its members, IMCA is holding its first Digitalisation Seminar in London on 15 October, which will focus on the impact of digitalisation on future operations. The seminar will demystify many of the terms in use and combine views from operators, contractors and suppliers on what they anticipate the future offshore industry may look like as they incorporate new disruptive technologies.
The seminar will also explore how member companies can start to prepare for these new technologies and operational changes. Importantly, it will reflect operators’ expectations of contractors and the supply chain. Presenters will illustrate the impact digitalisation is already having in the energy industry.
IMCA and its members are gearing up to embrace the opportunities and challenges digitalisation will bring!