Episode 14

Five Questions for a Field Service Expert Podcast

Inderpreet Shoker – ARC Advisory Group

In this episode of the Five Questions for a Field Service Expert Podcast, we chat with Inderpreet Shoker, Research Analyst at ARC Advisory Group. Inderpreet discusses. The episode runs about 18 minutes.

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If you prefer, you can read the full transcript below.
Mobile Reach: [00:00:09] Welcome to the Five Questions for a Field Service Expert Podcast. This is the show for field service professionals where we dig into the big questions about field service delivery and management. Every episode, we ask a field service expert five questions that can help you do your job better.
Mobile Reach: [00:00:28] Today we have Inderpreet Shoker with us. Inderpreet is an industry analyst at ARC Advisory Group where she works with the asset performance management team. She focuses there on asset management technologies and services and regularly publishes research and insights on technology for things like asset integrity management, asset tracking, and of course asset reliability. In fact, her most recent work focuses on inspections and maintenance improvements for asset-intensive organizations in the oil and gas, chemical, and power sectors. Interpreet, welcome, we’re so glad to have you with us today thank you so much for having me.
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:01:06] It’s absolutely my pleasure.
Mobile Reach: [00:01:09] Wonderful. Well, we have five questions for you Inderpreet as we do for all of our field service experts and asset management experts. Are you ready to go?
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:01:17] Sure!
Mobile Reach: [00:01:19] So, the first thing I want to talk about Inderpreet is data. Often that’s the source of so much value and that’s become increasingly important, indeed, in all aspects of asset integrity management. It’s now being captured through sensors, through cameras, drones, of course, mobile devices. Tell us about some of the most innovative ways you’re seeing industrial manufacturers use data to optimize their operations.
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:01:49] I absolutely agree with you, Dan. Data is extremely important. Actually, it has always been. But the good thing I would say is the manufacturers, they are increasingly understanding the importance of data and they are discovering great ways to utilize this. One way manufacturers are using all this data is to improve their asset management programs and their asset management practices. You mentioned all of these great technologies and what’s happening is that with all these great technologies, manufacturers are able to capture a lot more asset health data than ever before. So earlier a lot of this asset health information was collected manually. You know what can happen with manual processes. There’s always a good possibility that all the information can get lost so when you need that information you may have a tough time finding it. So now with all these latest technologies, mobile devices, sensors, and all data can be collected and aggregated automatically. So this ensures that key asset health information is not lost. A lot of these times, manufacturers are integrating all this asset health information with their different asset management systems, their ERP systems. And this ensures that all the good information related to asset health is there when you need it. Manufacturers are not only collecting this asset health information but they’re taking great advantage of this by using analytics. They’re applying analytical models to this data and that enables them to predict failure of critical equipment competence as well as suggest actions to fix these issues. So they’re using this asset data information and analytics to prioritize maintenance activities and then streamline the asset management operations.
Mobile Reach: [00:04:01] That makes a ton of sense and you talk about predictive maintenance and I want to come back to that in just a minute. But before we do I want to focus in on one particular source of data collection and that’s drones. So we know that drones are frequently used where technicians would otherwise be perhaps exposed to potentially dangerous situations, heights or conditions where there are volatile substances, that type of thing. How are you seeing drones yourself being used actually at the ground level where people are not claiming towers necessarily? And then what are the advantages of that approach?
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:04:38] Yes. In fact, I would say that the use of drones for inspection is one of the latest trends in the industry and the industry has quickly adopted this trend as well. And of course, the reason is that you know drones can quickly and very cost-effectively perform visual inspections for various kinds of assets that can be remotely located. As you said earlier, you know inspectors would need to climb ladders and use ropes or being of a kind of crane lifts or so to reach these hard to reach inspection sites. And with drones, they don’t need to do that anymore. They can be at a safe distance while the drone is capturing all the necessary images, videos, etc. And another added benefit of using drones is that they can also be equipped with advanced tools like imaging tools from graphic cameras so they can gather a lot more information than just regular images and videos. So definitely, as you said, inspectors don’t need to climb ladders so this enhances safety for everyone. And another added benefit of using drones is that it’s significantly cutting down time on visual inspections. So in many situations, you know inspectors they don’t even need to travel to the inspection site anymore. What they can do is simply view a live or recorded video that has been taken by the drone. So it saves them all the time they could have spent traveling to the side and coming back. So inspectors are actually able to inspect many more sites than before more effectively. And another added benefit of using drones, I would say is that all the inspection videos images or other data that are collected by the drone, can be easily saved for later reference or be shared with other experts and they could be anywhere in the world. So definitely we are seeing a lot of benefit of using drones in the field.
Mobile Reach: [00:06:49] There are quite a few. Let’s let’s shift for a minute back over to preventative maintenance which you mentioned a moment ago. And we know that preventative maintenance is evolving actually in use, you spoke to this briefly, into a predictive model where assets and equipment are being repaired before they even go down. How does an organization start to think about moving towards a predictive maintenance model? What’s what’s involved in the transformation like that?
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:07:18] They’re simply saying her not as involved in that transformation but the one thing if a user is just starting to move to a predictive maintenance model, what they can do and probably should do is that they can start small and bring in incremental changes. Obviously, first of all, they would need to identify the most crucial assets in their plans that they would like to start with and then identify the right technology depending upon what kind of assets they choose to monitor. And then the next step would be to identify a right partner, the right supplier to help them with that kind of transformation. So definitely a lot is involved and a lot can change within our organization when you are going through such a transformation but I would like to highlight the importance of people involved in the process. Because you know an organization may spend you know hundreds and thousands of dollars to bring the latest technology. But that would not benefit the organization unless the people, unless the staff, you know, they are properly trained and motivated to use the technology in the right way. When you look at a change within our organization, I think it’s going to be the people first, and then the processes, and then comes the technology. I think an investment in change management is an area which many times is ignored or is highly under-estimated. So clearly having a proper change management program is absolutely crucial for success. Employees need to understand what is changing, how it is changing, and how it’s going to affect their day to day job responsibilities or how it’s going to make their day to day job responsibilities easier. And I would like to share a story that an end user shared with us. They implemented a state-of-the-art asset management system and connected all their instruments to this new asset management workstation so that operators would have access to all this great you know asset health data and they would get all kinds of alerts. So this organization, they were expecting great returns. They were expecting major improvements in their operations and that did not happen. And when they tried to find the reason, they realized that the operators they were not using the system properly. They realized they were only using the system for calibration purposes when they needed to replace an instrument. So all the alerts that they were getting, all the use the asset health information that they were getting, they were not making any use of it. And all of this was because the staff wasn’t properly trained to use the new system properly, trained to use the new system more efficiently. This highlights that even if you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the latest technology, unless you train your people to use that technology properly, you will not receive an optimum value.
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:10:44] So I would just like to say that organizations should never forget the people part of the transformation.
Mobile Reach: [00:10:50] Well said well said and something that I think is is is heard so often and embraced only after perhaps sometimes a hard lesson is learned, so great insight there. Let’s talk more about asset management for a moment and asset tracking. You have published recently about the virtues of remote monitoring and I want to talk about how the various hardware and software in that system actually relies perhaps less on human intervention. Relies less on, you know a technician making a trip out to an asset. How do you see remote monitoring changing the service technician profession?
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:11:35] Yes, you’re absolutely right. I think remote monitoring and certainly making service technicians’ life easier even if they have to make a trip to the field. But overall, it’s helping to reduce the time to respond time to analyze, and then time to fix equipment. As you know with remote monitoring, all the asset health information can be made available at the central control station. So if something goes wrong and the asset is not working, the technician already has a lot of information on the asset’s condition. So if an asset is not working, a technician would probably go in the field or to the plant. They would inspect it and then find out what is causing the issue. Then they would realize, ok what kind of tools do they need? What kind of spare parts do they need? And sometimes they may even realize that probably a different technician would be more experienced or more qualified to fix the issue based on their findings. They may need to get somebody else there, to make a trip to the warehouse, and get their appropriate spare parts or so. So it may take them multiple trips. Obviously, it involves a significant amount of time. Now with remote monitoring, technicians can have access to much more information even before they visit the field. So in many cases, they can know exactly what is causing the issue with the asset. And then depending on the asset, they can assign an appropriate technician. They would also have more information on what kind of tools or spare parts that are needed. So they are much better prepared to fix that issue. So it saves them multiple trips to the field and saves them a lot of time as well.
Mobile Reach: [00:13:20] That’s actually your answer is actually a perfect segway to the last question that we have for you today, Interpreet. Speaking of data inputs before the technician actually arrives on site, what are some of those key trends that you’re seeing and what we might call dynamic inspections where environmental or operational conditions, other real-time conditions even, are driving the actions that a technician or inspector would take.
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:13:47] In general, I would say that we definitely see a trend toward advanced technology adoption to make inspections and other maintenance work easier. We already talked about some of the latest technology. We talked about drones. We talked about remote monitoring. Another technology that I would like to highlight and we have started to see now is the use of autonomous vehicles for inspection purposes. As you know, in various industries we have infrastructure and assets remotely located. So performing inspections or any kind of maintenance task on these remotely located assets can be a major challenge. One such example of such assets is sub-sea assets in the oil and gas industry. As you know for inspecting something subsea, you would need special equipment. You would need to have divers. So, it becomes a major, Major task and not an easy one of course. For these kinds of assets, we hear a lot about the use of remotely operated vehicles or what we usually refer to as ROVs. They have been used for a while and we have them perform these you know routine inspection tasks more efficiently, effectively. What we have started to hear now is that we have started to see some applications, and some you know pilots involving supervised autonomous vehicles for these sub-sea inspections. So these semi-autonomous ROVs, what they have is that they combine some of these features of ROVs and autonomous vehicles. They are equipped with multiple sensors but they can autonomously collect inspection data on sub-sea structures from a very close range and they transmit that data to a central location where you know a maintenance staff can make decisions on the maintenance and repair operations. They have access to all the information about the asset health, they can see the asset, and that’s definitely helping them expedite inspection and maintenance tasks. And helping them perform these maintenance activities with far fewer crew members than ever before, which is I think a great help for the industry. You know that is already struggling with a skills gap. So we have started to see these autonomous vehicles for sub-sea applications right now. But I think we will see more these for inspections and in other industries in the future.
Mobile Reach: [00:16:48] You are clearly publishing and thinking about the leading edge of where technology is heading relative to asset integrity management and all aspects of asset performance. Interpreet, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.
Inderpreet Shoker: [00:17:06] Yeah. Thank you so much. Thanks for the invite it was a great pleasure talking about the latest technology and trends in the space.
Mobile Reach: [00:17:13] You can learn more about interpret and her expert insights at ARC Advisory Group at their website, http://www.arcweb.com. Thanks so much for listening.