The future is now – Resolving the industrial aging problem

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For years we have been talking about the problems the oil & gas and petrochemical industry will be facing in the future: the shortage of personnel and the brain drain that accompanies it. This future is happening now. Companies are already struggling with baby boomers on the verge of retirement and the recruitment of young and skilled technical workers. Because investing in education takes years to be fruitful, we require a different approach. I believe IT solutions play a big part in helping out the industry.

The oil and gas workforce is aging. It is even said that worldwide half of the oil and gas workforce could retire this year. This is a disaster for our industry. These workers bring years of experience and tons of knowledge to the table. Younger generations lack skills and expertise, something we can’t blame. Development takes time. In the meantime, this leaves companies with a huge brain drain.

But the issue knows two sides. Workers are aging and therefore retiring, yet on the other side – that of employee inflow- figures aren’t looking good either. The industry is finding it harder and harder to attract new people. Young potentials often choose for seemingly glamorous industries, such as consulting and advisory. They don’t want to get their hands dirty, so to speak. Even though in reality this image does not fit the modern technology-driven industry anymore, it still is associated with hard (physical) work and stained overalls.

The sector is trying to motivate the new generations to establish a career in oil and gas, already starting in elementary school. Governments support this mission and have been launching campaigns to encourage children to choose a technical education. But it takes years before new generations of workers have been educated. And after that, even more, years are needed to get them leveled up to the high standards demanded by the industry.

In other words: we ran out of time! We need solutions that can solve this puzzle right away. We need to be smart. We have to be more productive with fewer people. Therefore, efficiency has become one of the industry’s key KPIs. I believe IT solutions play a big part in helping out. Monitoring, metering, and analyses are the foundations of management efficiency and for the production in the oil & gas and petrochemical industry. Process analyzers are your eyes and ears in controlling performance. Their applications vary from monitoring and reference to process control, safety, custody transfer, fiscal metering, and allocation. Analyzers provide essential data. But too often, analyzers are more of a burden than a delight on the shop floor for they lack long-term measurement stability and are hard to maintain. This is where analyzer management comes into play and where personnel shortages are resolved.

If done right, IT solutions for managing and maintaining analyzers in the field and the laboratory can reduce the workload of operators and laboratory workers significantly. In addition, maintenance efforts can be reduced. You’ll need fewer people in the field, running around to check on all instruments and fixing them if necessary. A capable management system will detect errors before a real crisis can occur, without the need for redundant checkups on installations that are very time-consuming. At the same time, plant operability will be improved and availability will increase.

In other words: it is possible to do more with less. Fewer resources and especially fewer people. It is time to change our course in solving the scarcity of workers in the oil and gas market. Let IT solutions be your answer.

Wouter Last, CEO Hint

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