Saudi Aramco unveils 'Fourth Industrial Revolution Centre'

Saudi Aramco unveils 'Fourth Industrial Revolution Centre'
Published: 24 March 2019 - 6 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery

At Aramco’s premises in Dhahran, a remodelled and vastly expanded office wing has been converted into a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Centre’, where technological and digital innovation is, in turn, transforming the way in which the company runs its operations.

In a global economy that is increasingly leveraging the opportunities afforded by what is known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, it is essential for industry to tap into the many opportunities and possibilities contained within it. Lagging behind is simply not an option, and Saudi Aramco is effectively blazing a trail in the energy industry with its targeted strategic focus on latest digital technology.

The 4IR Centre will play a pivotal role in uplifting the technical skills of Saudi Aramco’s workforce and bringing advanced technology capabilities to realise the company’s digital transformation vision. The centre will help the company’s operational performance to enable greater efficiencies and significant cost savings, and help further strengthen the company’s global leadership in the oil and gas industry.

“We are excited about the potential of the centre. It will play a key role in accelerating the digital transformation across Saudi Aramco, be pivotal in enabling a paradigm shift for our operations through more digital technologies, while unlocking new business and operating models,” says Ahmad A Al-Sa’adi, senior vice president of technical services.

With its advanced capabilities, extensive access to information, and people-centric environment, the centre is a digital transformation ecosystem for digital solutions throughout the hydrocarbon value chain.

Some 2,500 square metres of office space was remodelled in the construction process. The facility features 279 square metres of video walls, with a total of more than 109 million pixels pitch that split into multiple clusters and zones.

Visitors are welcomed by a ‘V-receptionist’ hologram that provides safety instructions and gives an overview of the centre. At the heart of the centre is the futuristic circular bright space of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Hub, which is ringed by a massive concave video screen on which over 20 operational solutions are displayed. It is one of the biggest screens of its kind in the world.

The AI Hub is focused on developing advanced analytics and machine learning solutions in hydrocarbon related applications. The big data and advanced analytics make use of the innovative solutions in this domain to visualise and predict the performance of critical Saudi Aramco assets. This hub combines in-house development and external tools to enable Saudi Aramco’s subject matter experts to make timely decisions to improve asset availability, utilisation, and efficiency. The value and cost savings realised from these solutions underlines the significant impact on the company’s operations and business.

Next to the AI Hub is the ‘VR Zone’, which is used to develop, prototype, and train for augmented and virtual reality, among other capabilities. This hub can be used to visualise plant assets and to get a live sense of the plant experience from a simulation booth.

The centre also has the capability demonstrating operational use cases of air, ground, and underwater robots through the ‘UAV Space’. This section combines advanced technologies that supports a variety of different applications – including methane detection, emergency response, inspection services, project monitoring, inventory management and many others – to reduce cost, enhance efficiency, and improve health, safety, and environment.

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