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.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 256,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the oil & gas industry, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future.

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’.

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.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.