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How robots are helping Woodside Energy to boost production

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Woodside Energy is now working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to use mobile robots to patrol their production plants.

The robots, equipped with IoT sensors, are monitoring temperatures and gas levels in the atmosphere at the plants.

During a keynote address at the 2019 AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas recently, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer Dr Werner Vogels gave visitors an insight into how the Australian LNG industry pioneer is embracing the robotics revolution.

AWS re:Invent 2019, is a four-day global event brings together global business and government leaders to discuss and showcase the latest technology trends. This year’s event attracted more than 60,000 attendees.

Dr Vogels noted that Woodside’s Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Western Australia is now equipped with 200,000 sensors that monitor operations 24/7.

Connecting these IoT sensors to AWS is allowing Woodside to optimise production and maintenance in new ways.

For example, Woodside used sensor data to build an algorithm that allows the team to predict and prevent foaming in the Acid Gas Removal Unit (AGRU), a critical part of the production process that cannot be monitored directly.

Woodside is also one of the first customers in the world to pilot the Amazon Kendra service announced recently – to make even better, faster decisions and improve internal operations.

Kendra is a highly accurate and easy to use enterprise search service that’s powered by machine learning, allowing Woodside to find greater precision in responses to natural language questions.

Disrupting traditional business models

Sarah Bassett, Head of Resource Industries for AWS in Australia and New Zealand said:

“Digitalisation is changing and affecting all industries. Traditional business models are being disrupted, and the ways in which the resource sector is being used and managed will be profoundly transformed.

“This transformation is affecting all verticals including retail, media and entertainment, finance, telecommunications, and healthcare, where organisations are being called to embrace disruption and digitise.”

Ms Basset says most major industry sectors are now moving toward digitalisation.

“Banking is almost completely digital, retail is evenly split between online and traditional bricks and mortar, and education, healthcare, and resources industries are increasingly moving online and becoming digital,” she says.

“Due to the fourth industrial revolution, the impact of technology and automation in the energy industry and the demand from consumers for decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitalisation means it is undergoing game-changing disruption.

“We are working with global organisations out of our energy and resources hub in Western Australia to leverage the latest technologies to improve operational efficiency, make data-driven decisions, and improve safety.”

Improving quality of life

Ms Basset says artificial intelligence strategies are set to boost industry productivity, create jobs, prompt economic growth, and improve the quality of life.

The new artificial intelligence technology roadmap developed by CSIRO states these specialisations will look to solve specific problems in many areas including natural resources and environment across the world. It showed that Australia will require up to 161,000 new specialised workers by 2030.Werner Vogels

“With these emerging technologies, AWS can help customers automate processes to reduce sources of friction, ensure a scalable platform, create data lakes to run analytics over data to deepen relationships, and better respond to market needs,” says Ms Basset.

“The changes taking place will continue to alter consumer expectations and the overall value chain, unveiling new potential to reshape the industry as we know it.

“It has become imperative for traditional resource and utility companies to rapidly change their business-as-usual practices and harness the opportunity and power of digitalization.”

Shelley Kalms, Chief Digital Officer, Woodside Energy said: “With 65 years of experience, including 35 years designing, building and operating LNG plants, we have millions of documents capturing our collective intelligence.

“Continuing our journey to becoming a cognitive enterprise, we are looking for greater precision in responses to our natural language questions, at a scale not previously possible.

“That’s why we have decided to use Amazon Kendra. Kendra uses natural language queries to retrieve specific answers our people need." 

“We’ll be able to precisely search our most valuable project engineering documents, and will soon scale this across our entire documented knowledge base.”

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