The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by an increased need for optimising productivity, enhancing return on investment, reducing operating costs, and improving worker safety. Digital technologies are enabling the oil and gas industry to achieve these objectives and this is characterised by the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and robotics. 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 Internet of Things in Oil & Gas: Smart factory data interfaces. Buy the report here.

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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, robotic drilling machines and digital twins are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Wellbore drilling optimisation, automated drilling tools, and pressure sensing flow actuator are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are combined cycle power plants and smart climate control systems, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the oil & gas industry

Smart factory data interfaces is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

A smart factory is a production site, which integrates digital technologies with industrial equipment to automate routine activities. Such facilities leverage sensors and machine-to-machine communication to exchange data and optimise equipment performance, while detecting and addressing production issues along the way. A smart factory, thus, eliminates human intervention, and allows for achieving error-free production.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart factory data interfaces.

Key players in smart factory data interfaces – 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 data interfaces

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Rockwell Automation 88 Unlock Company Profile
Fanuc 74 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 53 Unlock Company Profile
Yokogawa Electric 42 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 36 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Controls International 25 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 20 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 16 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji 11 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
Covestro 5 Unlock Company Profile
Schneider Electric 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Rockwell Automation is one of the leading patent filers in smart factory data interfaces. The company’s solutions are used to support oil and gas drilling and production in both onshore and offshore environments. These solutions help in optimising production, and reducing energy consumption among many other benefits.

General Electric’s Smart Factory Manufacturing Execution Systems leverage the Industrial Internet, machine learning, and predictive analytics to increase production speed, enhance product quality, and reduce manufacturing costs.

Fanuc offers open platforms, which enable various manufacturing devices to be connected to enhance sharing of data and improving productivity and efficiency.

To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things in Oil & Gas (2021).

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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.