How to be agile and maintain a competitive edge during uncertain times
by Chris Brooks, CEO
The pandemic has changed the flow and processing of information, the nature of business and how we work, and has snarled global supply chains.
For people, the impact has included working from home as the norm, an absence of physical interaction, varying travel restrictions, and strains on family ties and social mores.
Many companies were caught flat-footed to the shutdown having to improvise new processes and workarounds to meet the rapid and changing demands of their employees and customers as well as the market, in order to stay competitive and in business.
The new world is on-demand, distributed, cloud-based and digital.
Those businesses that were further along in their digital transformations fared the best as they had immediate access to data and could plan, analyse and then pivot as the situation changed.
Ocean Industries Strategically Demand to Move Ahead on the Digital Transformation Curve
Unfortunately, gaining digital agility has been challenging for both established and emerging ocean industries. Oil and gas, offshore wind farms, ocean monitoring and aquaculture have been hampered in digitally transforming their operations because the product they deliver often requires vast physical infrastructures in remote and adverse environments which often malfunction and require unplanned maintenance and visual inspections. Vessels and diving crews that are usually on standby to respond have also been hampered due to the pandemic and resulting lockdown forcing challenging travel requirements. Additionally, the nature of the environment that these structures operate in bring significant challenges to traditional acoustic or optical systems.
It is becoming painfully obvious to these sectors that communication, monitoring and navigational technology and systems must be updated to provide operators with automated and reliable access to data in real time from any sensor, sonde, datalogger, acoustic doppler current profile or probe, wherever it may be deployed in their network infrastructures.
Many companies in the subsea oil and gas and offshore wind farm sectors are setting goals to modernise operations and infrastructures, committing to 100% unmanned subsea inspections within five years and 100% digitised data soon thereafter. These sectors require continuous monitoring to get as much data into a central location as reliably and quickly as they can to analyse the structural integrity of their platforms as well as determine remaining asset life.
Fault-Prone technology, manual processes and lack of real-time data at fault
Long before the shutdown, these operators faced spiralling costs and potential health and safety risks from sending vessels and crews for unplanned maintenance. Any new transmission solution should be ruggedized for challenging offshore environments, integrate with standard sensors and communication and electrical interfaces, and attach to a wide variety of floating or stationary platforms, structures, buoys, piles, pipelines, mooring lines above, on or below the water. Operators want to continuously and remotely monitor pressure, flow, pollution, corrosion, strain, motion and fatigue, and receive early alerts while increasing performance and reducing operating costs as well as their carbon footprint.
Environmental monitoring and observing organisations such as NOAA and UNESCO’s Global Ocean Observing System have thousands of buoys, platforms and current profilers in their global networks and need a fit-for-purpose, integrated ocean observing system that supports weather, climate, marine and ocean services, international research and can exchange metadata through a systemwide monitoring network. Chief among their concerns: monitoring harmful algae blooms; the effects of climate change; rising sea levels and pollution’s impact on sea life. A modern solution for this sector enables remote and reliable monitoring, capturing, modeling and analysing of large quantities of ocean and navigational data in real time.
Offshore fish farms are shallow water environments that experience adverse conditions of turbid and choppy water that occurs near the water’s surface. Farmers have little advanced technology, relying upon operators onboard boats to ad-hoc drop a probe into the water and take readings of ocean temperature and dissolved oxygen levels, usually in one or two locations around the fish pens. Fish will only feed when the water conditions are optimal. If farmers could find a way to monitor more of their environment in real time, they could improve the production and health of their stock, optimise the use of feed (one of their highest expenses) and raise margins.
To date, technologies that have performed these functions have often failed in harsh conditions found in deep ocean and shallow water alike. Cables snag and fail from the stress of repeated wave motion or break connection with sensors at the water’s surface and operators build up to significant room in their budgets to cover maintenance. Acoustic wireless signals cannot get through the water-air boundary from underwater modems to topside receivers and are heavily degraded in turbid or choppy water. Additionally, there is growing evidence acoustic sound may affect marine life, and these solutions are expensive. Optical wireless solutions are subject to marine growth on the units, don’t work well in tidal seawater or water that is turbid or choppy, where light is ambient of where line-of-sight is limited or non-existent.
CSignum leads the Digital Transformation with subsea innovation
So how can these ocean industries modernise their infrastructures so they have access to reliable, real- time data for their applications and can react with agility to changing conditions of the sea, the health of their infrastructure and the planet, the global market, and the needs of their customers?
CSignum overcomes the limitations of the current acoustic, optical and cable subsea technologies with the “first-mile” communications that transmits data from anywhere subsea, water-to-air or air-to-water through structures, the seabed and the water column reliably and in real time. The technology known as HydroFi is a reliable, automated and remote monitoring RF wireless modem that uses ultra-low frequency and power consumption so it requires little maintenance — making it a safer, greener solution for the planet. HydroFi Modems can be placed in a multitude of subsea environments and connect to most sensors using standard communications interfaces. The receiver can be mounted on piles, buoys, nets, pontoons, above, on or below the water or in the splash zone.
As a result of HydroFi, operators will now be able to “see” what is going on in real time below the water without having to send vessels and crews. Because it is based on open, modular technology and standard connection interfaces, it works with a wide range of sondes, probes, acoustic doppler current profiles and other devices. With HydroFi, ocean industries can enable “first mile” data to connect with last mile WiFi signals on land for an end-to-end digital infrastructure that is agile, enabling operators to easily add sensors into the network and quickly respond to unforeseen economic and environmental global disruptions.
Whatever the stage of technology adoption, all sectors will be able to digitally transform how they deploy, protect, operate, update, integrate and manage their remote communications systems for greater sustainability, increased performance and preparedness.
HydroFi can solve the problems technically and commercially, giving these sectors the peace of mind that their information is getting to the right place at the right time to process for their applications, whether that involves the structural integrity on a wind farm or oil and gas platform, preventing harmful algae blooms, improving ocean observing, or optimising the health and sustainability of fish farming.