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Baker Hughes, a GE Company, sees evolution to “revolution” in digital

C. ANDERSEN, Vice President of Reciprocating Compression and Flow & Process Technologies,
Baker Hughes, a GE Company

In one of the toughest markets in the history of gas compression, we are challenged to deliver more with less. Producers are capital-constrained and have a much lower risk profile. A generational knowledge gap has developed, as fewer experienced workers are returning to the workforce after years of layoffs. In addition, it has been estimated that more than 50% of oil and gas professionals are set to retire over the next 5 yr–10 yr. The gas compression business is going through a transition from a model where decades of expertise and product knowledge have been leveraged, to one with a more digital and data-based decision-making approach.

Many industries are in a state of digital disruption as technology and tech-savvy consumers change the way we do business. Companies must adjust to this new reality or risk being left behind. For instance, companies are now using drones to inspect flare stacks, and others are using predictive corrosion management on pipelines. The industry is undergoing a transition from being reactive (“what happened?” and “why did it happen?”) to being proactive (“predicting the onset of an event” and “what can I do to prevent it from turning into an unplanned downtime event?”). 

At Baker Hughes, a GE Company (BHGE), we believe that this evolution is becoming a “revolution” with product solutions offering asset performance management, or APM. APM is saving companies a significant amount of money through reductions in unplanned downtime and efficiency increases. 

A recent example of an APM success story is when sensors identified machine stress in a turbine at one of the world’s largest exploration companies. The Rapid Response team at BHGE’s Industrial Performance & Reliability Center notified the customer of the issue and initiated regular briefings on the situation. The customer was then able to identify all possible root causes through the use of data analytics, and proactively replace the turbine at its next planned maintenance rather than waiting until the turbine’s scheduled date of replacement, which was several months away. These actions potentially saved the company millions of dollars in lost production. 

How can customers in gas compression leverage APM? We understand that our customers have a need for clear visibility to issues with their equipment. A misdiagnosed repair can cost the customer in downtime, lost production and equipment and/or service costs. For instance, with a turbocharger repair, a customer might misdiagnose issues with throughput or efficiency. Due to lack of sensors on a turbocharger, a customer makes a “best-guess” effort at fixing an issue, and the misdiagnosed repair might cost $25 M in repair costs and as much as $200 M in lost production. With proper monitoring and assessment, these customers can bolster their diagnoses with data, thereby saving time, frustration and money.

Market trends have been clear: Equipment operators must maximize the life of their installed fleet by understanding when their equipment requires service. The ability to pinpoint a maintenance timeline minimizes the required hours of unplanned downtime. With scalable digital systems in place, a company can gather insights from individual compression packages or an entire fleet. These analyses can help them optimize their overall business with data-driven strategies. 

BHGE’s gas processing digital strategy incorporates close partnerships with other GE businesses, such as GE Distributed Power (Waukesha Engines), the Oil & Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City, BHGE’s Digital Solutions business (Bentley Nevada) and a key partner in ACI Services Inc. The solutions BHGE provides range from small and simple analytics, such as measuring the deviation in a discharge temperature to signal potential trouble ahead, to more detailed and physics-based analytics, such as creating a digital twin to predict equipment life and optimize operating parameters. These solutions provide operators with a range of opportunities that are customizable to each package and project, and dependent on the criticality of the asset and the availability of sensors or personnel.

Fundamentally, operators have a need to identify potential issues early, but they also want a package that runs “worry free” while providing reliable and steady throughput. With site-wide APM data, operators can easily make decisions about their spare parts purchasing, maintenance schedules, and/or equipment deployment. In an environment where every cent counts, minimizing financial impact on a balance sheet due to smarter inventory and resource planning allows companies to better allocate their spending. GP

Author Pic Andersen 

Christina Andersen is Vice President of Reciprocating Compression and Flow & Process Technologies for Baker Hughes, a GE Company.


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