Equipped for the future

Craig Feherty discusses the transformational impact that digital technology has had on his business

Recently, I was asked what digital technology meant to our business. Is it something we take for granted as part and parcel of our everyday lives? Or, is it something we should focusing on to improve our business through slicker more direct focused solutions and business processes? What tangible benefits can digital technology offer? Where can digital technology take us in the future?

Of course, being a member of Generation X, I have had the luxury of seeing the evolution of digital technology from the early days. As an engineer, I spent many hours persevering with those technologies, which, in their infancy, were quite frankly, flaky at best… Those halcyon days of trying to carefully dislodge crumbs of toast from a floppy disk which contained the one and only backup of the data?! And then there was the horse and cart needed to carry about the huge mobile phone required for business travel (ironically a design trend which is coming back into fashion). Thankfully digital technology has evolved in every aspect, not just in its quality and reliability, but in its ability to solve our problems. Digital technology is at the heart of our personal and professional lives. So much so that, for the most part, we don’t even know it is there.

What does digital technology actually mean to a business like Well-SENSE? As a team working from various locations, digital technology allows us to communicate and interact with each other in real-time. Ideas, concepts, innovations and knowledge can be shared using phones, emails, video conferencing and various messaging platforms – enabling us to co-operate as a unit in finding and delivering solutions.

Our ability to share data remotely via the cloud means that we’ll never arrive at a customer meeting to realise we’ve taken the wrong revision of a presentation. Just having the ability to work seamlessly from remote locations whilst on business travel makes our lives so much easier. Social media allows us to communicate our achievements and news in real-time to a global customer base at the touch of a button.

The ease of collaboration through digital interaction and our ability to share various forms of data is something we now take for granted. It’s only been made possible with developments in technologies and is something that, only a short while ago, due to cost or infrastructure restrictions, would have been beyond the reach of most small businesses. Digital technology allows businesses like Well-SENSE to remain flexible, accessible and responsive in customer collaboration.

Considering our products, our reliance on new technology takes on a whole other level.

From the initial idea, grown out of a customer problem, to being converted into a 3D CAD model, to the delivery of a newly created 3D digital file to our additive manufacturing supplier (3D printer), collection of test data, to the operational logistics of field deployment and the eventual evaluation and interpretation of the data gathered by the products, we rely on digital technology.

It allows us to design and manufacture our products for service, with a focus on cost savings and efficiencies that we can then pass to our customers. We can track the progress of the product from conception to delivery, whilst giving us control of every step of the product’s journey.

One of the best examples of digital technology is our innovative FiberLine Intervention Technology (FLI) of which digital technology was our inspiration. In its creation, we considered how technology giants, like Google or Apple, would troubleshoot the current problems of well intervention.

The resulting solution does away with the expense by replacing the tool infrastructure with a compact, low cost, low risk, disposable alternative and can incorporate almost any piece of technology imaginable, for example cameras, inertial navigation and pressure/temperature gauges.

The products run with FLI will most likely come from outside our own industry, for example a GoPro camera or Apple inertial navigation, further demonstrating the possibilities achievable through advancements in digital technology.

We’ve seen first-hand how digital technology can offer efficiencies and cost savings in the way we go about our business. The next step in the evolution of digital technology are the answers produced from data collection. The development of the IoT (internet of things) and advancements in machine learning allows us to analyse and use interconnected data points, an example being predictive maintenance.

Our customers don’t want to wait for interpretation specialists to troll through swathes of data to identify a problem when a computer could be monitoring the data in real-time and pre-empt an issue. Ideally, the computer identifies a problem before it even happens and takes action to rectify the fault.

Our fundamental goal is to provide our customers with a solution and the continuous development of digital technology helps us do this. We pride ourselves on delivering complete and cost-effective solutions and utilising digital technology and the IoT is paramount for us to be equipped for an unpredictable future in the oil and gas industry.

Craig Feherty is CEO of Well-SENSE Technology. Well-SENSE, a FrontRow Energy Technology Group company, was launched in 2015 to focus on bringing novel, high end technologies to market. Thanks to the effective use of a host of digital technologies, the company has recently achieved success with its innovation, FiberLine Intervention (FLI).

For further information please visit: well-sense.co.uk