Digital technologies: Drones, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence
Drones can inspect a petrochemical plant safely, without the activities having to be shut down in the plant. Another example is the deployment of robots to conduct inspection rounds remotely. Something which used to be done by a person, can now be fully automated. This includes, for example, recording meter readings, signalling defects or even fire detection. This way fewer people are exposed to risks in the plant.
Another development is the use of remote assistance. This is a technique where a camera in a safety helmet ensures that experts can look ‘through the eyes’ of the employee on site and can give advice. This can be useful on a drilling platform and saves journeys to the platform with a helicopter.
Virtual reality is mainly used for training. In a virtual environment, you can simulate anything you want, such as dealing with emergency situations like a fire, but also learning how to refuel a Shell tanker.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the final example. AI makes it possible to interpret data on a scale that no human being could ever handle. This can greatly improve the capacities and contributions that people make. For example, by using AI, a plant can see a fault coming up before it actually happens As a result, AI can prevent a plant from shutting down. This saves a lot of money and the more stable a plant functions, the less energy it needs.
Digitalisation is transforming the energy industry, by improving efficiency and safety, as well as facilitating the use of renewable energy.
Energy has been key at ETCA for more than a hundred years. ETCA is one of the three largest Shell research centres worldwide. This is where new ideas, technology and decades of experience come together to meet the energy needs of today and tomorrow.
In almost every technology developed at Shell, a chemical reaction occurs to convert one substance into another. A catalyst accelerates almost every chemical reaction.