Research Report

4 Mega Trends

Impacting the Successful Digitalization of STO Events

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Over the past few decades the rapid progression of technology has impacted many aspects of our lives from how we communicate, access information, process large data quickly and automate specific functions that were historically manually intensive. These innovations in technology have also changed the way asset intensive companies conduct Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages (STO).

According to T.A. Cook, a leading management consultancy for asset performance excellence, more than 80% of industrial STO events fail to meet expectations due to scope creep, unforeseen delays, missing risk management or associated circumstances. Today, proper execution of these complex projects requires a combination of meticulous strategic planning, change management, process optimization, and, in particular, digital transformation, which bridges together all aforementioned components.

Utilizing digitalization and technology within STOs enable industry companies to be more effective in managing resources and equipment, enhancing situational visibility, automating functions and controlling the scope of major projects and/or regular routine work. To be successful it is important to understand the trends industry leaders are incorporating to help manage their businesses more effectively for the present and future. Through the industrial adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), sensors, robots, cloud and edge computing, mobile devices, and real-time monitoring systems, the digitalization of STOs enables the transition from time-consuming manual and paper-based processes to automated and data-driven digital industry practices that significantly increase efficiency.

4 Mega Trends to Watch

T.A. Cook and StartUs Insights conducted a data-driven analysis to identify the top technology solutions for the digitalization of STOs. Using the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 1.379.000+ startups & scaleups globally, we identified 404 emerging companies focusing on innovations that impact STOs in 2021 and beyond. These key players develop a broad variety of solutions to digitally connect field workers and establish full-fledged connected workplaces, ascertain adequate situational awareness for management, automate inspection processes at different levels, as well as ensure better STO scope planning. From all of the available information we were able to identify the following 4 mega trends, the related macro trends and examples of use cases that will impact the digital transformation of STOs in the future:

View the tree map visualizing the mega and macro trends plus related use cases

Mega Trend #1: Connected Workplace

STO delivery occurs in a fast paced environment. Time is essential. Being able to understand work progression and then quickly communicating it from the field to event management is a necessity. For most STO teams these processes are still paper-driven. Turning paper-based information into digital information expedites the entire decision making process and makes information available at your fingertips. No surprise that the Connected Workplace trend is leading the transformation process.

When undertaking colossal-scale inspection events such as shutdowns or turnarounds, it’s crucial to monitor the movement of people, machines, and assets throughout the site. Additionally, many industrial facilities already encounter concerns around communicating task progress, supporting newly onboarded workers and general safety requirements. Emerging companies develop connected workplace solutions that leverage mobile checklists, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR & VR), location awareness, biometric identification, fatigue monitoring, wearables, and other technologies to increase the productivity of workers, minimize errors, and empower them through hands-free, on-demand support from colleagues and management.

Use case 1: Mixed Reality

With the help of smart glasses, AR projections, computer vision, machine intelligence, and connected remote expert assistance options, the field workforce receives more opportunities for hands-free and delay-minimized task fulfillment.

Use Case 2: Safety Observations

Connected workplace solutions can help increase safe and productive execution of STO events by applying location-awareness RFID tags for tracking workers and assets, with status and condition updates in real time. These use cases cover things such as remote gas detection, confined space monitoring or body temperature screening solutions.

Download a list of Start-ups offering innovative solutions for connected workplace

Mega Trend #2: Situational Awareness

Having more data, and knowing what to do with it, is always helpful when someone needs to make important decisions. However, STO management is time sensitive. Success depends on how fast you can convert available information so that the right actions can be implemented and communicated in a timely manner. With connected workplaces decisions can be made faster and with increased accuracy.

One of the prerequisites for effective STO management is high process visibility and ample control opportunities for management. STO project executives often struggle to obtain relevant data on time, which results in their inability to determine a new course of action when it’s required. In combination with connected workplaces, situational awareness solutions help STO managers form a digital flow of desired STO parameters based on real-time site visualizations, digital dashboards and reports, work order maintenance, scheduling, access, asset integrity management, big data analytics, cybersecurity, and risk management.

Use Case 3: Location Tracking

Builds a real-time visibility platform to map assets and equipment and share the data “on-demand”. This use case provides your turnaround team and partners with one source of truth about the location, status and history of every item you need to know about.

Use Case 4: Paperless Work Package Management

This technology uses a work order management platform for shutdowns and turnarounds with a focus on digital forms, access control, and role-based permissions. These solutions enable instant status progress and inventory record-keeping, optimize equipment’s digital check-in and check-out, create interactive site maps, and ensure personalized business intelligence reporting for supervisors and executives.

Download a list of Start-ups offering innovative solutions for connected workplace

Mega Trend #3: Automated Inspections

STO event duration beyond the agreed upon execution window translates to additional duration and costs. Using automation can provide STO management with the ability to reduce time by streamlining and/or performing specific work functions.

The evolution of artificial intelligence and machine & computer vision algorithms allows industrial facilities to automate non-destructive testing methods. These include acoustic, ultrasonic, infrared, hyperspectral, laser, radiography, and other inspections, which are widely employed during routine events and STO events. In particular, robots, drones, smart pigs, and autonomous vehicles, combined with corresponding digital control, management, and analytics platforms advance an effective accomplishment of planned activities in a digitally traceable way and with less manual input.

Use Case 5: Use of Robots for NDT Inspections

Advanced climbing robotic technologies and designated sensor payloads help to perform non-destructive visual, magnetic, ultrasonic, laser profilometry, and liquid penetration inspections for power, oil & gas, and pulp & paper facilities. In addition, these platforms obtain a digital picture of inspected assets in 3D with specified metrics to further analyze them.

Use Case 6: Thin-film Sensors for Inspections

Thin-film, high-resolution, printed ultrasonic sensors for industrial inspections operate in different scale and even in extreme environments. The sensors provide a real-time digital visual condition of assets while aligning with curved surfaces and complex geometries. Thin film sensors can also be used to check for potential flanges leakages.

Download a list of Start-ups offering innovative solutions for automated inspections

Mega Trend #4: Scope Assurance

The success or failure to deliver an STO as planned will have a direct and major impact to the bottom line for an industry company. One certainty is that you cannot account, predict or plan for what you do not know. These crucial misses in planning and execution will ultimately lead to additional unforeseen scope, costs and delivery times.

As scope creep and related budgeting issues act as one of the most common challenges of STO planning, many companies seek to develop innovative scope assurance solutions to mitigate the above-mentioned pain points. Startups, scaleups, and more mature enterprises offer solutions that enable digital walk-downs with no paperwork. They offer mobile device and online forms, digital twins for better visibility before and during turnarounds, as well as products for cost management and contractor tendering automation. In addition, startups & scaleups offer predictive analytics that utilize regular condition monitoring data to forecast the status and problems of an asset, as well as plan necessary STO actions in advance.

Use Case 7: Digital Scope of Work Platform

These types of platforms are used for scoping and planning of STO events and are comprised of role-based dashboards, project data management, multi-level budget control, work lists and action items tracking, as well as specific field work activities planning. Combined with field tablets these platforms build the foundation for a 100% paperless process.

Use Case 8: Digital Twinning of Assets

A real-time enabled digital twin forms the link between the STO planning and the STO execution phases. They look to optimize and assist as you analyze resource requirements during these phases. Once digital twins are established, the STO planning team becomes more time efficient and effective.

Download a list of Start-ups offering innovative solutions for connected workplace

The connected industrial workplace plays an instrumental role in enabling the digital plant of the future

A third of the start-ups we analyzed develop connected workplace solutions which underlines the importance of this trend. Connected Worker technology is helping many companies maintain their critical operations, keeping workers safe while at the same time saving businesses time and money. Find out in the graphic below which use cases are at the forefront of connected workplace and the other three trends.

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Industry companies must continually look for ways to utilize and provide all available tools to help their STO management teams deliver successful events and remain competitive in today’s challenging market. Digital transformation paves new pathways that can lead to the enhancement of STO management. Streamlined scope management, advanced inspection technologies, connected workplaces, and optimized situational awareness solutions are all contributors that help enable these gains.

Still, it is important for industrial companies to find a partner organization who possesses successful turnaround intelligence and best practices to consult, guide, and strategically support their STO digitalization journey. A well balanced mix of digital technologies and change management is needed to realize the full benefits of digitally transforming industrial STOs.

How does this impact you?
If you want to learn more about digital STOs and existing solutions or would like to conduct a digital maturity assessment of your maintenance and turnaround organization, please visit our website or get in contact with our experts. We can also conduct a one-day strategy workshop with you to discuss and evaluate the trends with a specific focus on how they can impact your organization and business objectives.

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Photo of Frank-Uwe Hess
Frank-Uwe Hess
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Markus Lewerenz
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