Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East – the only downstream focused magazine in the region – organised a roundtable on 'Combining Human and Artificial Intelligence for Autonomous Operations in the Downstream Industry' at JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai, UAE.
The roundtable was attended by Joerg Theis, global vice president, oil, gas and chemicals, ABB; Pierre Leretz, president and lead division manager, industrial automation, Middle East & Africa, ABB; Engr. Zaidan Mohammed O Yousef, director general, strategic planning and investment development, Royal Commission at Yanbu; Bindu Satheesh, engineering director, Wood; Fadi Shanaah, regional director, business development, Smart Cities & IoT, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Orange Business Services; Vinod Raghothamarao, director consulting, Energy Wide Perspectives, IHS Markit; RK Mehra, strategic advisor, Gulf Petrochem; Cristian Hedesiu, marketing manager, Orpic; Hamad Abdulsahab Mahdi, senior sales analyst, aromatics marketing department, Petrochemical Industries Company; and Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Chaired by Menachery and co-chaired by Theis, the roundtable discussed the themes of ‘Current Automation/Digitalisation Landscape of the Downstream Industry’, ‘Innovations in Automation and Digitalisation’, and ‘Humans Collaborating with Systems through Digitalisation’ in three separate sessions.
“Automation and digitalisation done in the right way will further improve the uptime, productivity, energy efficiency and safety in the downstream industry. There is already a massive impact of automation and digitalisation in the refineries and petrochemical facilities, and this trend is going to be more powerful in the future. The direction of this technology development is not just connecting systems but running them in a collaborative way with an increasing degree of autonomy,” said Theis.
In this automation and digitalisation landscape, there still will be the human element in any refinery and petrochemical unit of the future but augmented with better machine intelligence. Most of the routine, repetitive work done by humans today in the downstream facilities will be done by automated and digitalised systems in the future. What humans will be doing in the refineries and petrochemical plants will change dramatically – humans will add increased value in dealing with processes and market interfaces.
“With better connectivity, ability to capture, store and manage data from different sources and different formats, and improved analytics, and ubiquity of access, there is a window of opportunity that industry professionals are exploring and they are now starting to drive the breakdown of silos in their environments,” commented Shanaah.
Skilled resources are not in abundance and during the daily demands of the job. Industry professionals are finding it difficult to improve on their understanding and building the expertise to bridge the skills gap. Some companies are addressing this gap by hiring external vendor-neutral expertise to build the know-how in their teams and others are creating specific events that allows for the implementers and vendors to communicate and educate their decision makers and staff to learn from the trends.
“Humans collaborating with systems, with the help of innovative digital solutions, in order to get the best possible job done, will rewrite the future of the refining and petrochemicals manufacturing industry,” concluded Theis in his closing remarks at the roundtable.
Check out the following video to know what each participant has to say about the roundtable organised by Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East on 'Combining Human and Artificial Intelligence for Autonomous Operations in the Downstream Industry'.