McDermott has begun its digital transformation journey
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McDermott has begun its digital transformation journey

Akash Khurana, VP, CIO & CDO, McDermott
Akash Khurana, VP, CIO & CDO, McDermott

Akash Khurana, VP, CIO & CDO, McDermott

McDermott operates in approximately 20 countries across the world and has approximately 13,500 employees, a diversified fleet of 12 specialty marine construction vessels, five fabrication facilities (the fabrication yard in Dubai is shown here), two spool bases and seven engineering offices.

McDermott is a leading provider of integrated engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) services for upstream field developments worldwide. We deliver fixed and floating production facilities, pipelines and subsea systems from concept to commissioning for complex offshore and subsea oil and gas projects to help oil companies safely produce and transport hydrocarbons.

  Achieving a comprehensive digital thread layer enables what we are calling, “the Digital Platform” for McDermott  

Over the last few years, the energy industry has started moving into the age of digitalization. Today, we see the increasing use of data to analyze and improve performance of not only what we do internally, but also what we deliver to our customers. This trend will only accelerate over the next few years.

In 2016, McDermott began its digital journey by focusing on the ecosystem and determining how to put the system together. 2017 has become our launch year for many of these new systems, where we are starting to build many components and deliver several pilot phases.

Our approach towards digital transformation is multi-faceted, and started with us determining how the digital building blocks can help accelerate how we reduce obsolesce in our environment. The timing of our obsolescence journey, mixed with the growing interest in digital, cloud and analytics, offered a great opportunity for us. We didn’t just look at how to remediate the old stuff we put together a broader strategy that would bring the latest industry leading, integrated solutions from the market to the business. We were in a great position to invest in the right technologies that tightly integrate our ecosystem on the front end of the digital age, essentially helping us leap-frog some of the companies in the field whose investment over the last five years could impede on required digital capital.

McDermott is focused on an integrated strategy aligned to a few building blocks that will enable our digital future for the company where we developed an area of focus called “Edge” The Edge is like the “GIMBA” in lean Six Sigma. It is where the work happens and will provide real-time data for analytical decision-making to facility operators and managers. For example, an operator could take preventive actions based on data before a pump fails, limiting repair costs and downtime.

Our challenge on the Edge was tied to pace layering our digital journey with obsolescence to overcome a siloed infrastructure, which did not have much visibility into operational data. To understand the challenges and possibilities, we developed a proof of concept that provides a holistic view of vessel operations and performance, simulating our future data lake, and we’ve seen very good results. We plan to conduct a pilot on one of our pipelay and construction vessels over the upcoming months. A part of our strategy is to embed high quality control and security measures that over the long term will ensure our business can trust the data they get from the systems we develop around it.

We are also looking at how to best store and manage data in the cloud. The term data lake has been around for a while, but tackling the beast is a real challenge for many companies. We’re investing in understanding how data is used over the long term so we receive value from the investments for many years.

Reusable Application Program Interfaces (APIs) are critical to creating the flexibility required in the future. We want technology to continue to evolve, so our architecture and building blocks for digital require advance API logic that will allow our backend to integrate with different software vendors to maximize the benefits from the maturing digital revolution. We are focused on making the world we create one that relies on, and easily connects to the outside world.

Since we are determined to execute an API friendly design, in parallel, we are building a right-sized ecosystem to support our needs. The ecosystem is a network of system integrators, technology partners and resellers who deliver components of our vision as a specialization, and can help us accelerate our outcomes. A few big name partners in our ecosystem will ensure our foundation is strong, but the real differentiation will be working with the smaller, more nimble companies.

The digital thread is another key building block of our digital strategy. Establishing an overarching platform that combines real-time information from the assets, contextualizes it using sophisticated methods and algorithms and that stitches together the building blocks. This is a significant bridge point for McDermott. As we execute, we will develop a meaningful line of sight to the next phase of the strategy and evolution of digital in the EPCI industry.

Achieving a comprehensive digital thread layer enables what we are calling, “the Digital Platform” for McDermott. Think of the Digital Platform as a living, breathing machine that consumes information and data, shares it and interacts with others who remotely manage it around the world. We are taking a 3D model that our engineers develop for customers, adding digital layers to it, to help bring the digital version of the platform to life…where it can take input (instructions) and provide output (data) that sets a different course of action for the customer.

We are working on a pilot in partnership with a leading Project Lifecycle Management (PLM) provider, wherein our Engineering team is focusing on better managing data using a “3DEXPERIENCE” platform to improve efficiency and productivity throughout the lifecycle of McDermott’s global EPCI projects. The new platform, integrated with a few key technologies, will enable customized project lifecycle management for subsea and offshore energy projects and eventually become a large component of our Digital Platform capability.

With an integrated approach from project inception to decommissioning, we believe we are setting the course and pace for the EPCI Industry by investing in a fully integrated, advanced industry solution for “Digital Platforms.” We are making great progress and the future is very exciting.

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