Industrial communication is a key enabler of digitalization
Health, safety, security, and environmental concerns are major aspects driving oil and gas drilling companies worldwide. They need to comply with environmental legislation, but they are also focused on improving the safety of workers in the field while ensuring reliable platform operation.
Because global energy markets are characterized by increasing
demands and now decreasing profits, drilling companies are also
challenged with reducing the overall costs of their operations. Offshore drilling requires a highly qualified workforce and includes high
operating expenses. Offshore workers need to be especially certified,
which translates into substantial labor costs. They frequently need to
be transported to and from the platform by helicopter, which results
in high transportation costs.
Another factor is the time needed until first gas or oil. The shorter
this time, the more profitable the drilling project. This means that
companies are interested in increasing the efficiency of their opera-
tions by improving the reliability and availability of the hardware used.
There are also environmental issues that call for efforts to minimize
the footprint of the operation, reduce the amount of energy needed,
and prevent accidents that might have a detrimental effect on the
As the automotive industry has demonstrated, replacing manual
work by handling robots is not only a step toward lower operating
costs, but also it leads to a higher level of quality and repeatability.
Reducing manual operations
The oil and gas industry has entered the world of automation and
digital process control. Stavanger, Norway-based Robotic Drilling
Systems AS (RDS) and Siemens have teamed up to develop a drill
floor solution comprising robotic technology for fully unmanned oil
and gas operations.
The system is designed to automate the complete drilling process.
It handles the pipes and tools required, and can be integrated into
new or existing onshore and offshore installations.
The system consists of drill floor robots, robotic roughnecks, multi-
size elevators, and robotic pipe handlers. It is designed to remove
high-risk manual tasks from the platform, while adding a new level
of speed, accuracy, and reliability to drilling operations.
According to COO Jimmy Bostrøm, “The RDS solution enables oil
and gas operators to decrease rig time per well, reduce health, safety
and environmental incidents, while reducing operating costs through
consistent operations. Additionally, the system offers benefits, such as
faster installation, along with lower noise and energy consumption.”
The technology not only reduces the personnel costs associated
with the rig, it also redefines the role of the drilling crew. The focus
will change from drill floor tasks to the well construction process.
control, and communication
Handling robots require intelligent motion control and a complex
automation system to seamlessly work together to handle a complete
work process without human intervention. Siemens provided RDS
not only with a wide range of drives and the complete automation and
Olmo Castaneira Rios
Multi-axial drill floor
robot designed for
handling pipes and
drill heads. (Image
Drilling Systems AS)