Tony Edwards talked about his experiences designing integrated operations centres/collaborative work environments for oil and gas and mining companies. These centres are needed if you want to reduce the staffing levels at operational sites. The company has designed such centres in Pennsylvania to manage shale gas operations, and for the Escondida mine in Chile, the highest producing copper mine in the world.
There are different operating models. One is when you have staff onsite but supported by remote engineering experts. “This is now the normal operating model for both brownfield and greenfield, onshore and offshore,” he said. The second level is where you build in the capability for full remote control, but don’t necessarily use it all the time. “This is increasingly considered for new greenfield operations and some brownfield operations.”
A third level is where you keep the asset minimally manned or unmanned, with all operations happening remotely. “It is possible to unman increasingly complex facilities,” he said. Another model is where you have a regional or global support centre for all of a company’s activities, particularly for subject matter experts, such as in rotating equipment or drilling.
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