The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for productivity improvement, reduction of operational costs, and enhanced safety with the growing importance of technologies such as industrial internet of things (IIOT), big data, robotics, and cloud management. In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Oil & Gas: Smart factory applications.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
150+ innovations will shape the oil & gas industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the oil & gas industry using innovation intensity models built on over 256,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, sensor guided flow mixing, AI-assisted cheminformatics, and intelligent embedded systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Automated drilling tools, AI for workflow management, and AI-assisted CAD are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are mixing ratio control techniques and wellbore drilling optimisation, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the oil & gas industry
Smart factory applications is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence
Smart factory, sometimes referred to as intelligent factory or digital factory, combines several modern technologies to create self-adaptable and flexible manufacturing capacity.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart factory applications.
Key players in smart factory applications – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to smart factory applications
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Fanuc||284||Unlock company profile|
|Siemens||267||Unlock company profile|
|State Grid Corporation of China||237||Unlock company profile|
|General Electric||122||Unlock company profile|
|China Southern Power Grid||119||Unlock company profile|
|Rockwell Automation||56||Unlock company profile|
|Applied Materials||45||Unlock company profile|
|Halliburton||36||Unlock company profile|
|Mitsubishi Heavy Industries||32||Unlock company profile|
|ABB||26||Unlock company profile|
|Formosa Plastics Group||25||Unlock company profile|
|China Southern Power Grid||24||Unlock company profile|
|Honeywell International||24||Unlock company profile|
|3M||23||Unlock company profile|
|Hyundai Motor Group||19||Unlock company profile|
|AB SKF||18||Unlock company profile|
|Yokogawa Electric||17||Unlock company profile|
|Schneider Electric||15||Unlock company profile|
|China Petrochemical||13||Unlock company profile|
|Makino Milling Machine||12||Unlock company profile|
|Caterpillar||11||Unlock company profile|
|Trumpf||10||Unlock company profile|
|China National Petroleum||10||Unlock company profile|
|CNH Industrial||9||Unlock company profile|
|Government of China||8||Unlock company profile|
|Andritz||8||Unlock company profile|
|Krones||8||Unlock company profile|
|Shining 3D Tech||8||Unlock company profile|
|STATS||8||Unlock company profile|
|Chevron U. S. A||8||Unlock company profile|
|Saudi Arabian Oil||7||Unlock company profile|
|Kawasaki Heavy Industries||7||Unlock company profile|
|Lincoln Electric Holdings||7||Unlock company profile|
|BASF||6||Unlock company profile|
|Kurita Water Industries||6||Unlock company profile|
|WheelRight||6||Unlock company profile|
|Otis Worldwide||6||Unlock company profile|
|Durr||6||Unlock company profile|
|Altro||6||Unlock company profile|
|ATS Automation Tooling Systems||5||Unlock company profile|
|Rieter Holding||5||Unlock company profile|
|Schlumberger||5||Unlock company profile|
|XiAn Tian He Defense Technology||5||Unlock company profile|
|Bozhon Precision Work Technology||5||Unlock company profile|
|Keyence||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Siemens is one of the leading patent filers in the smart factory space. Its smart manufacturing solutions help companies to develop intelligent manufacturing through data analytics, visualisation, and rapid sharing information. They also help to save costs through virtual commissioning, enhanced decision making through real-time insights, and faster modernisation of legacy equipment.
General Electric is another leading company offering its Proficy Smart Factory (MES) solutions that help companies to combine physical manufacturing with digital counterparts. MES is a collection of cloud and on-premise solutions that use IIOT, predictive analytics, and machine learning to give real-time insights and intelligence.
Smart factory applications through AI will potentially become the favoured approach by many oil and gas companies, especially those involved in production and refining. Use of AI helps companies to move closer to their objectives of reducing the costs associated with production and raising the overall operational efficiencies. Companies are looking to automate as many processes as possible to mitigate operational risks as well as labour risks, potentially leading to cost savings in the long term.
To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on AI in Oil & Gas.