Solving Maintenance Challenges in Oil, Gas & Utility Operations


Oil, gas, and utility businesses face complicated constraints and prolonged cycles of shifting supply and demand. The industry is also susceptible to intermittent disruptions from events like weather to the unprecedented global health pandemic, which has jeopardized the structural and financial health of the entire sector.  


According to a McKinsey report, the COVID-19 crisis accelerated “what was already shaping up to be one of the industry’s most transformative moments,” potentially propelling the industry into “an era defined by intense competition, technology-led rapid supply response, flat to declining demand, investor skepticism, and increasing public and government pressure regarding impact on climate and the environment.” Yet as the authors note, the industry is simply “too important to fail.”  


Faced with an increasingly competitive and fluctuating market, organizations require operational flexibility to quickly respond to the ups and downs of the industry. To achieve this, many businesses are turning to Industry 4.0 technologies to automate processes, improve efficiencies, and cut costs.



The True Costs of Unplanned Downtime


For a gas and oil company, 3.65 days of unplanned downtime each year will cost them $5.037 million. With the average offshore gas and oil company experiencing 27 days of unplanned downtime each year, they can incur in excess of $38 million in losses. For utility companies, outages result in extensive direct and indirect economic losses for the company, other businesses, and the economy as a whole. To minimize the risk of costly downtimes, these organizations require more reliable and efficient maintenance management technologies.


Industry 4.0 technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) have led to the emergence of predictive maintenance. With predictive maintenance, companies can automate and optimize their maintenance management processes. More than any other support function, maintenance management can have a significant impact on operations by helping these organizations to minimize costly downtimes and overcome common maintenance challenges.



Major Maintenance Challenges for Oil, Gas, and Utility Companies


Every industry faces maintenance challenges. Oil, gas, and utility companies, however, face a unique set of challenges.



Asset Maintenance


Organizations in this sector must operate, manage, and maintain complex and expensive assets. Moreover, these assets typically require specialists to repair and are located in remote areas. Poorly maintained assets carry significant risks. We already mentioned the astronomical costs associated with production downtimes. Other risks can include increased depreciation, revenue loss, and dangerous working conditions. 


Predictive maintenance tools help organizations to employ a proactive approach to optimize the performance of their assets and minimize risks. These technologies are ideal for oil, gas, and utility companies since stakeholders have real-time access to data for all their assets, including those in remote locations. Maintenance teams avoid unnecessary trips allowing businesses to optimize the use of their resources.



Safety Concerns


Working in the energy sector is inherently more dangerous than working in other industries. Safety lapses can have devastating consequences. One of the first things to go when leadership decides to cut costs is maintenance. This results in a reactive maintenance model of quick fixes.


Yet these cost-cutting measures often have the opposite effect. Assets breakdown and cost more to fix. And businesses allow unsafe work conditions to exist that can lead to substantial legal liability. Predictive maintenance tools improve safety and compliance by ensuring that assets are performing as intended.



Talent Shortages


Oil, gas, and utility companies will face talent shortages in the coming years. With maintenance professionals retiring and younger generations finding the sector unappealing, organizations will be required to do more with less. Predictive maintenance technologies streamline maintenance management processes to replace manual processes. This gives maintenance professionals more time to perform high-value tasks and allows management to make informed decisions about the deployment of maintenance resources.



Costs of Production


Energy prices are volatile and for the most part outside of the control of organizations. One thing that energy companies can control to some extent, however, are their costs of production. Maintaining assets in peak performance ensures that businesses are getting the most out of them. Automating maintenance processes reduces labor costs and improves operational efficiency.



Overcoming Maintenance Challenges with Digital Maintenance Technologies


It is imperative for oil, gas, and utility companies to modernize their processes with digital transformation and Industry 4.0 technologies. Since maintenance management is such a crucial support function, automating processes is an excellent place to start.


Many organizations continue to rely on paper-based maintenance processes. These processes require countless hours of error-prone manual data entry. Data processing delays provide incomplete and inaccurate data. For oil, gas, and utility companies these processes are especially restrictive. Maintenance teams require mobility and access to information in the field.


Recognizing these needs, Sigga Technologies developed two industry-leading maintenance solutions that integrate seamlessly with SAP PM. Sigga’s Planning and Scheduling solution automates key steps in the scheduling process. Organizations can automatically check capacities, assign resources, prioritize work orders, track order status, and make informed decisions based on real-time data in SAP. Predictive signals from IIoT devices can be easily turned into work orders and resources coordinated for rapid response before a breakdown occurs.


Sigga’s Mobile EAM solution provides all the resources that maintenance professionals require in the field for predictive, preventive, or urgent breakdown repairs. The solution supports the technician’s information requirements when offline while automatically syncing when back online for full visibility in SAP. Capture the data that you need to reconcile contract workforce billings and improve compliance by requiring technicians to complete custom steps in their processes in support of industry-specific data requirements.


To see how one of the largest power companies in the world saved thousands and increased the efficiency
of their maintenance management processes with Sigga, download the success story.