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How robotics is driving change in the oil industry

How robotics is driving change in the oil industry

Smartphones. New and improved medical devices. The cars we drive. Even the bot you may have seen cleaning the floors in some supermarkets lately. We cannot ignore all the good that technological advancements have done in today's world. They make so much more possible that we could not do before. While there can always be some downsides — such as some people thinking it will destroy jobs that could have otherwise been done by humans — the truth is, the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

Robots are created not to make it harder for people to get jobs but to truly make things easier, safer, and more convenient for them. Machines tend to do the mundane or dangerous work that real people need not do. Not only that, but people aside: machines can actually help the environment, too. Let's learn about some ways robotics is more environmentally friendly in the oil industry, a field that powers so many of the things we do every day and cannot be overlooked.

How robotics are used on oil rigs

Robots are being implemented into the production phase when it comes to the oil and gas industry. They are being used more and more during this phase because there are places where it could be harmful for humans and employers want to keep their workers in good health. Robots are put to work in a remote-operated sense, using things like underwater vehicles and even aerial drones.

They can also be used to drill and weld in situations where it's best people not go. People don't have to worry about their jobs, as is a common misconception, because they are still needed when it comes to controlling the machines. Many workers are more than happy to be using these innovations in extreme conditions rather than risking their lives unnecessarily.

Robotics can also be used in the following stages:

  • Exploration
  • Production
  • Operations
  • Decommissioning

The industry is thrilled to be getting more and more into using technology to cut down on injury — and more.

Benefits of using robotics in the oil industry

In terms of robots that are coming to the rescue of the environment and help the oil and gas industry in their own ways, there are things like weeding robots that are methanol fuel cell-powered, and even a handy tree planting bot. In the oil space, in particular, there are plenty of upsides to this newer method — ranging from being better for the environment and cutting down on time, to improving productivity and increasing funds.

As mentioned earlier, robotics help to keep hard-working citizens out of harm's way — for instance, by performing the duties of a roughneck, which is known to be very hazardous. From burns and broken bones to worse, there are many things that used to be less avoidable that we now don't have to worry families about, thanks to technology.

Machines can also be designed and built to handle and move through spaces that no human person could (at least not without an accident), which enables more thorough and more frequent inspections. Inspections prevent environmental disasters such as major oil spills. The way inspections can be performed by robots can also reduce the carbon footprint of any company with examples like Ecorobotics' robotic tank cleaning.

There are even companies working on figuring out how to make the robotic parts, themselves, more biodegradable. That way they are less likely to end up in landfills, as the disposal of some types of machinery can prove damaging to the environment.

Reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and improving productivity

Utilizing robotics for oil rigs reduces operational costs by eliminating the need for extra safety measures for otherwise risky human tasks. With machines, employees no longer need to worry about unpredictable factors, like weather.

Robots can automate redundant, humdrum, routine tasks, allowing human employees to take on more analytical and thoughtful responsibilities. Keep in mind, operational costs include spend beyond just paying salaries—when workers live on-site, employers would also need to pay for heating, cooling, housing, and food for their staff.

Overhead expenses can be significantly decreased this way. The robots, of course, also have no need for daily breaks, yearly vacations, or any sort of benefits, thus there is less downtime.

Plus, while robots are doing the drilling and other such tasks, the real people can refocus their attention on maintaining business as usual. They don't need to be pulled in too many different directions, which frees up time, lowers the risk of errors, and makes processes more efficient, overall.

Robotics offer a new future for the oil sector

The future of technological innovation in the gas and oil industry has officially arrived—but is nowhere near done. There are still more creative solutions in the works and we have yet to see what else can be imagined to make life better. Everyone needs oil. Without it, we would not have society functioning at the level it is today. However, as people, we don't want to reap the spoils of the earth at the detriment to the planet — that makes us feel greedy.

If we can continue to do what we need to do in a way that is more optimized for the health of the earth, why not do so? Not to mention, again, it increases profits for employers due to cutting out so much downtime, expensive safety equipment, and beyond.

A rapidly increasing number of employers in this field are working automation via robotics into their processes as they see the proof in how much it can boost productivity, help the environment, improve cost-efficiency, upgrade the level of safety at their locations, and all sorts of other positives.

We are excited to see where the future of robotics takes us as humans and what other industries can see impressive improvement and growth when they take advantage of the bots.