I've blogged many times about the aging workforce challenge facing many industries. At the SPAR International conference Wayne Rodieck of Anadarko Petroleum outlined what this means to the oil and gas industry and how he is uing IT to bridge the generation gap.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is projecting that by 2020 the U.S. will surpas Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer. US oil and gas production, driven by technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is rising dramatically. Since 2008 the U.S. oil and gas industry has increased production by 25%. This expansion has created 1.7 milllion new jobs.
Most of these have been filled by young workers with no or little experience in oil and gas, but better acquainted with IT technology than the experienced workers who are on the verge of retirement. As with other industries oil and gas is faced with the challenge of knowledge transfer to enable younger workers to be as productive as possible and to avoid a massive decline in productivity as the older generation retires.
Dr Apostol Panayotov of UC Denver described an online spatially-enabled asset information system at Anadarko that is designed to be accessible to both generations. It provides a web-based user interface designed to serve up information about equipment on oil and gas facility sites including visual photographs, facility attributes and accurate geolocation. It is based around point clouds captured by scanning valves, pumping stations, and other oil and gas pipeline infrastructure, but it hides the point cloud behind an intuituve user interface that relies on smart digital photographs of faciltiies. Clicking on a particular piece of equipment such as a valve, tank, or catwalk in a digital photograph links the user to information about that picece of equipment including geolocation and dimensions, information that is derived from a point cloud.
Wayne described a simple use case which explains what he sees as the critical advantage of this approach. There is an emergency and at 2:30 am he has to send a young, inexperienced worker out to a site where there are a 120 valves to turn off one of them. He feels confident that by providing the young worker access to this online system which includes accurate geolocaton that he go to the right site and turn off the right valve. Equally important the intuitive photograph-based used interface will not put off the experienced workers who are less comfortable with IT systems.