Advisian is a global consulting firm that was established through the congregation of various companies including WorleyParsons Technical Consulting, INTECSEA, Evans and Peck, MTG Ltd., and EcoNomics. The industries Advisian works are in challenging times manifested in low commodity prices and increased push-back on social license to operate. The reaction to these challenges has been a strong push to reduce costs, which have left many of Advisian’s clients working with smaller staff teams, and increased pressure to improve outcomes for their organizations (increase production, reduce cycle times on projects, etc). It’s these challenges that Advisian is looking to meet by creating Advisian’s Digital Enterprise group.
According to Ryan Strom (Director of Advisian’s Digital Enterprise Group in Canada), “WorleyParsons’ commitment to entrepreneurial spirit and partnership – started by John Grill over 30 years ago – still drives the company’s innovative approach in new areas. Our global reach, and deep industry experience allows us to serve our clients in new ways, that others can’t. It’s a challenging (and exciting) time for our traditional business lines, and that makes for new and interesting opportunities.”
Strom adds that “Advisian provides deep engineering and consulting expertise and advice to clients in the hydrocarbons, infrastructure, minerals and metals, and chemicals sectors.” The “real-world experience” of the company’s consultants allows for “greater value, new possibilities, and superior outcomes from their assets and businesses.” In order to provide the best service possible, Advisian Digital Enterprise has been created to ensure that clients are building and maintaining their digital assets in accordance with their existing physical assets. The ultimate goal is to ensure that clients have the information needed to make informed decisions regarding the future of their business.
To help clients to better manage these assets, the Advisian Digital Enterprise operates under three key pillars: projects, operations and technology. The projects sector helps manage data, in order to “improve efficiency and safety outcomes during the execution of new and brownfield builds,” and ensure that “the digital assets created are available and useable by operational groups.” The operations aspect of Advisian’s asset management strategy operates from a “digital twin” concept – as such, “every physical asset has a twin which represents the asset in the real world.” The quality and quantity of this “digital twin” and the information held is dependent on the costs and benefits of doing this for each specific asset. Strom explains that “finding the right level of sophistication to meet a client’s need is a top priority for any engagement.” Lastly, the technology aspect of the process uses advances in technology as well as data science in order to bring forward solutions to intractable – and sometimes unsolved – operations challenges; this may involve any technology from analytics and visualization, to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and emissions quantification expertise that is currently not employed in this industry.
“Digital Enterprise has observed that in the world of consumer technology, new tech gets adopted and evolves quickly, while the cost of it drops quickly over time,” says Strom. “In engineering and engineered assets, the opposite seems to happen; adoption rates are slow and costs go up over time, despite the fact that oftentimes consumer and operational technologies are often substantially similar. We believe that one of the reasons for this divergence is the potential complexity of implementing new technology in the operating environment, coupled with the conservatism for change that often has to go along with a focus on safety. Digital Enterprise focusses on building implementation cases for owners so that the cost / benefit can be visibly quantified, and works with a deep understanding of the designed asset to build detailed and practical implementation plans.”
Currently, Advisian has seen development in two main sectors of work that are of particular interest: the project space and the operational space. Within the project space, WorleyParsons is providing EPCM services to a Tier 1 hydrocarbons customer in Western Australia. Strom explains that, as the portfolio of projects is being managed through the use of about 10 different systems, extracting data and reporting activity through these systems was very time-consuming. However, the implementation of a data visualization concept based on Assure – a data mapping tool from Advisian Digital Enterprise – the company was able to extract and streamline the data for easier access. According to Strom, “This provides the project team with new insights to improve project delivery for this client.” It also adds more value to the customer by reprioritizing staff from pushing data around to getting business insights from the resulting analytics. Within the operations space, Advisian Digital Enterprise has begun to tackle fugitive emissions in the oil and gas industry. The use of their hardware platform has allowed them to map leaks and quantify them for use in steering operational cha nges for the better. This is considered a “world first innovation,” as it allows asset owners the ability to recognize and attend to their biggest leaks first, thus causing a significant reduction to greenhouse gas emissions and the consequent cost.
Advisian’s “digital twin” concept has also been implemented for a large potash mine in Saskatchewan. Since the beginning, the client has allowed for Advisian to hone the “digital twin” management technique to explore a variety of parameters and scenarios that ultimately help improve the performance of the physical asset, as well as improve operating costs and integrity. “Phase one of the project saw the Digital Enterprise team implement a fully integrated cloud-hosted engineering document and data management system for the client’s EPC contractor. The deployment of phase two (the second component of the digital twin) will provide significantly improved operating information management, including electronic redlining and an imbedded management of change process. The two environments are designed to exchange data, so as the mine is developed, data can seamlessly move into the operating environment. The client intends to operate this facility for as long as 70 years and this environment will be the foundation for their digital asset information. “
A long-time employee of WorleyParsons, Strom began his career there through the acquisition of a small geo-environmental company. As he grew his career, he says he was attracted to the company’s then-undervalued innovations that he believed deserved greater credit. While the company faced the initial struggle common for many large organizations, their effort towards innovation became more widely recognized through the implementation of Advisian Digital Enterprise. According to Strom, it “provides an outlet for that new way of thinking,” which brings innovation forward in a way that offers mutual benefits for the success of both the clients and the company. “Continuing my career into the digital space,” he adds, “I’m able to bring my understanding of how our clients’ businesses work, and help lead our collective industry in a new, interesting direction.”
For the future, Strom believes that a key aspect of improvement within the energy sector is the early “value-recognition” stages of adopting innovative challenges. He says that this stage is similar to the transition from fax to email; however, the risks of refusing new methods for the old are becoming much greater as time goes on. “At the more macro-economic level, it seems clear that a consensus is building in that crude prices will stabilize in a range between $50 and $60,” he says. “Given that large energy company balance sheets have been stripped of so much cost and overhead over the last several years, it is clear that the most viable pathway towards profitability will now be rooted firmly in increased efficiency. This will lead to a real acceleration in both the adoption of new innovative technology at the plant, and also to much more comprehensive plant digitizations. From what we have seen taking place already, those who are bold enough to move early will realize significant savings and generate sustainable competitive advantage.”
WorleyParsons’ history began with company chairman John Grill, who initially joined Smith, de Kantzow & Wholohan in 1971; this sparked the establishment of Wholohan Grill and Partners, a small Australian engineering consultancy, in 1976. After steady growth throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Wholohan Grill and Partners gained the attention of American-based engineering firm Worley, which had business in Australia as a leader in the offshore oil and gas industry.