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Global Collaboration to support mining, oil and gas operations in Australia

Energy and Resources Digital Interoperability (ERDi)

The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP) are pleased to announce they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Yokogawa and ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) to collaborate through knowledge sharing with respect to Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS™) technology testbeds.

As previously announced, ExxonMobil selected Yokogawa as a complex system integrator and the companies have since collaborated on the design, development, configuration and testing of an O-PAS aligned process control solution at ExxonMobil’s OPA testbed at the Yokogawa facility in Houston, Texas, USA. This work is driving the realisation of a modular interoperable process automation solution and is closing standards gaps in pursuit of a solution in which modules from multiple vendors can interoperate without bespoke integration.

UWA and ETP are co-founders of the UWA Industry 4.0 Energy and Resources Digital Interoperability (ERDi) TestLab located in Perth, Western Australia. The TestLab is one of six established at universities nationally as part of a strategic initiative of the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce, which was formed in 2016 by Australian Federal Government.

The ERDi TestLab was established to address skills gaps with respect to i4.0 interoperable architecture and has enabled more rapid development and adoption of industry 4.0 interoperable technologies and associated benefits within the mining and oil and gas industries.

The collaboration through sharing of learnings between EMRE, Yokogawa, UWA and ETP will enable the realisation of an O-PAS compliant ecosystem to support O-PAS based process control solutions to be built within the ERDi TestLab in 2020. This will enable engineers from mining, oil and gas, systems integrators and vendors to become more familiar with these technologies and new approaches in the safety of a lab environment.

Furthermore, the ERDi team and members will benefit from access to knowledge and ‘lessons learned’ from years of commitment in developing and testing the application of these standards from both the EMRE and Yokogawa teams.

Once the core technology components are assembled in the TestLab, the ERDi team and TestLab members will be able to conduct proof of concept and pilot testing with respect to mining and oil and gas use cases, considered as high value in the region, with the results being shared with EMRE, Yokogawa and The Open Group Open Process Automation Forum™ (OPAF) to ensure that standards are evolved to capture all requirements.

ERDi TestLab co-founder and ETP Managing Director, John Kirkman expects big things to come out of the collaboration: “This is massive benefit for the energy and resources industries, not only here in Australia, but globally. End user companies are looking for bottom line improvements through technology, and the opportunities to capture the largest bang for buck are in operations management, process control technology advancement and automation maturity improvements.”

“Miners use process control technology to operate their processing plants in which all ore is processed to deliver final product. As such, the maturity of the process control technology used directly impacts throughput, yields and energy consumption. Moving towards an interoperable process control architecture will enable miners to integrate new value yielding technologies into their plant in a more time and cost-effective manner.”

“To date, a large contingent of the world’s foremost experts in process automation, from end users and technology providers, have contributed to the OPAS work and this collaboration enables ERDi members and collaborators to take advantage of this work and realise opportunities and benefits in the soonest possible timeframes,” Mr. Kirkman said.

UWA Testlab Director, Professor Eric May, said the collaboration was a key milestone which would play an important role in helping deliver new skills and technologies to Australia’s energy and resources sector: “The ERDi Testlab will be a key tool for the development and demonstration of new interoperable technologies needed for the efficient production of LNG, hydrogen and other key resources. It will play a central role in the delivery of the Future Energy Exports CRC’s research program, which is on track to start this year. The collaboration by knowledge sharing with EMRE and Yokogawa will enable key outcomes to be realised much sooner than would otherwise be possible.”

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