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“Large teams are often needed to monitor industrial and oil and gas sites in remote areas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, creating significant challenges in terms of staffing and the associated costs. The good news for such companies – especially if they operate in remote locations – is that smart video and AI solutions can help increase site security, safety, and efficiency – all at a fraction of the cost of manual patrols,” says Igor Mashkeev, Director of Business Development in the Ural Federal District, Hikvision Russia
Like many large engineering operations, oil and gas sites present a range of security and health and safety challenges, typically associated with heavy industrial equipment and moving machinery. However, extracting, refining, and transporting hydrocarbons presents particular fire and explosion risks that require all equipment and installations to operate at safe working temperatures.
Such are the complexities and risks of these kinds of operations that large teams are required to monitor equipment and employee safety. What’s more, the high value of hydrocarbon-related products means that security – and especially perimeter security – is paramount to prevent unauthorized people from entering restricted areas.
Security and safety risks are amplified at remote sites
These challenges apply to all heavy industrial and oil and gas operations worldwide. Where sites are located in remote areas, however, companies are exposed to an extra layer of complexity and risk. Where hospitals and other care facilities are not so readily accessible, health and safety provision becomes even more critical.
Remote sites may also be more susceptible to intrusion and other security risks, requiring constant monitoring of site perimeters and of all people and vehicles entering and/or leaving the area. To make matters worse, finding staff to work in such locations is often a particularly challenging task, particularly if there are no major urban centers nearby.
For all these reasons, remote heavy industrial sites – and particularly remote oil and gas fields and mining sites – require monitoring and security solutions that are not only highly effective, but also as automated as possible. Only in this way can these kinds of operations reduce the need for physical teams and manual processes, while also ensuring that employees, assets, and hydrocarbon products are protected 24×7.
Transforming security and safety at remote sites with smart video and AI
Overcoming these challenges in remote industrial operations is only possible with the adoption of digital technologies. In particular, solutions are needed that deliver more advanced, automated security and monitoring capabilities – from perimeter security monitoring to the monitoring of equipment temperatures – with automated alerts for all kinds of breaches and incidents.
The key to achieving this is to implement the latest generation of smart video and AI solutions. These use a range of technologies and capabilities that improve security and safety, while also dramatically reducing the need for manual patrols and other interventions.
These kinds of solutions help industrial, and oil and gas companies achieve their security and operational safety goals in five key ways.
- Remote inspection to reduce human exposure to hazardous environments
Oil and gas plants are complex facilities where flammable fossil fuels are created and stored. Due to the high-risk nature of these unique facilities, traditional and manual inspections might not be safe or efficient enough. Remote inspection with smart video technology can help visually check all sites and equipment using high-definition cameras based on inspection schedules. With Hikvision explosion-proof cameras that are designed for the most hazardous environments, assets and operation of oil fields can also be continuously monitored and protected from potential risks. They could be useful in monitoring the tankers and critical zones, for detecting oil leakage or equipment failure in real time, and for enabling quick responses to hazards. In this way, manual inspection requirements can be greatly lessened, and the human exposure to hazardous environments can be reduced accordingly.
- Thermal imaging to minimize fire and explosion risks
Using intelligent thermal monitoring solutions, industrial, and oil and gas companies can track equipment temperature constantly to ensure fire safety. For example, gas is often pumped through high-pressure pipelines at a temperature of up to 400 degrees. In such cases, thermal imagers can be deployed to monitor the pipeline route and to generate real-time alerts in the event of leaks or critical temperature increases, allowing teams to attend the location much more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Increasingly, thermal imaging technology is being integrated with optical camera technology. This type of device, known as a two-spectral thermal imager, allows events recorded by thermal imaging to be verified with high-resolution video footage.
- Automated monitoring for health and safety compliance
Until recently, compliance with health and safety policies in industrial and oil and gas settings has required extensive manual monitoring by large teams. Now, smart video and AI technologies allow health and safety monitoring to be automated to a very great degree, with algorithms to detect that personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, masks, and suits are being used when required. The same kinds of technologies can also trigger alarms if employees come too close to dangerous equipment, helping to further reduce health and safety risks. In addition to these capabilities, the leading AI-enabled smart video solutions also trigger alerts when other types of dangerous incidents take place, such as employees falling over, for example.
- Site access control and security, 24×7
For industrial and oil and gas sites, access control is a key issue, both to prevent theft of assets or materials, and to reduce the risk of vandalism. To ensure that only authorized personnel enter sites and installations, a new generation of access control solutions can identify employees and site visitors using either biometric information, such as fingerprints, card-based systems, QR codes, and a range of other access tokens. The most advanced solutions also provide the option to integrate with AI-powered solutions, such as facial recognition, to further increase site access security and control. In all cases, access control systems should offer intuitive software that makes it easy to register and manage new devices and users on the network.
- Optimizing perimeter security for industrial and oil and gas sites
The latest generation of smart video and AI solutions allow organizations to optimize their perimeter security. In the most advanced solutions, multiple technologies can be combined for effective perimeter protection, including infrared sensors, radar, and pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) cameras. In one such combination, a radar is used to detect the movement of a person or vehicle in a protected area, and a linked PTZ camera immediately focuses and tracks the target. One radar device and PTZ camera can cover a large area, reducing equipment requirements and costs and significantly enhancing perimeter security compared to traditional CCTV cameras.
Delivering next-generation smart video capabilities in the Urals region of Russia
Recently, we have delivered all kinds of smart video and AI solutions for customers in the hydrocarbons, mining, metallurgical, and nuclear energy sectors. These range from advanced perimeter protection solutions and access control systems, to thermal imaging for equipment and site monitoring.
Our AI-powered solutions are also helping customers in these sectors to monitor health and safety compliance – including the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and to ensure that only authorized employees and visitors enter sites.