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White paper: Capturing and Sharing Operational Knowledge

Executive Summary

  • Operators today are overloaded with complexity. Multiple applications monitoring countless systems and an ever-increasing number of alarms are extremely stressful. Adding to the stress are the continuous departures of experts from the industry. Companies are integrating their systems, but ultimately humans are tasked with making critical decisions during abnormal conditions. The decisions made during abnormal conditions are directly related to the integrity of the process environment and the bottom line at an estimated cost of over $20B annually, in the US economy alone.
  • It has never been more important than now to capture the knowledge from plant operations experts and make it readily shareable before the embedded knowledge of their experience is lost forever. Not only is it important to preserve the knowledge, but the real value is derived from applying it in decision support applications to enhance the role of the organization’s personnel in the event of abnormal conditions. Therefore, the ultimate goal is to obtain the knowledge necessary to assist in decision-making actions that directly affect the bottom line.
  • Expertise required during times of need from the most qualified staff is not always available and is diminishing as a result of retirements and the lure of lucrative consultancy engagements. Over the next 5 years, approximately 45% of engineers in the electric utilities industry will be leaving the workforce, creating a void of 7,000 power engineers. Michael Ohadi, interim president of the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, predicted in 2008 that the majority of employees are considering retirement, where up to 50% could potentially retire within 10 years. The average age of professionals in the oil industry is close to 50, there is already a 38% shortage of skilled petroleum engineers and geologists in the Middle East region, and countries each year are already investing billions of dollars on training and preparing its oil and gas workforce for the future.
  • Consequently, a new generation of technology is required to develop knowledge into operational intelligence that can be applied and shared throughout the plant and enterprise environment. Through a deep understanding of the knowledge hierarchy and plant operations, Integration Objects developed the KnowledgeNet (KNet) solution. It provides a platform for monitoring and managing process operations and supply chain performance. The intelligent application framework identifies opportunities for profitability enhancement which includes management of continuous process improvements, enforcement of best practices, and recommendations of the best responses for abnormal conditions. With KNet in place to support more effective operations management, data and information are transformed into the knowledge necessary for improved process and enterprise performance. In other words, KNet becomes the plant’s operational expert.
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