Aramco deploys Computer Vision at the edge

  • August 25, 2021
  • William Payne

Saudi oil producer Aramco has deployed edge-powered computer vision systems from edge AI specialist Foghorn at multiple sites to enable automation of drilling equipment and processes, provide predictive maintenance of equipment and enhance safety. Aramco is aiming to build a more efficient infrastructure for future automation and technology standardisation across its production and processing facilities.

Aramco has employed the Lightning Edge AI platform to develop camera-based monitoring solutions across multiple plant and rig locations to increase operational safety and efficiency. Use cases include remote drilling rig inspection, on-site safety compliance and emissions monitoring.

The company is keen to implement an automated remote drilling rig inspection system that could detect and respond immediately to incidents. Aramco company deployed a camera-based system, powered by FogHorn streaming video analytics, allowing workers to monitor blowout preventer (BOP) activity via a dashboard and shut down operation during a well control incident immediately, compared to manual “spacing out”. Automating these activities has significantly reduced operational, safety, and environmental risks during drilling rig operations.

The solution was conceived as a proof-of-concept for the Drilling at the Edge (DATE) programme in Aramco’s Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Centre – Advanced Research Centre (EXPEC ARC). DATE is a technology initiative to coordinate people, algorithms, data, machines, and processes on a drilling rig around real-time information, to accelerate decision making and optimise operations.

Aramco has also implemented a new automated surveillance system, named the “IR 4.0 Safety Eye”, using digital image processing, powered by the FogHorn Lightning edge analytics platform, to provide safety monitoring in real time. The computer vision solution streams live closed-circuit video from standard surveillance cameras through AI software, which detects fixed and moving personnel and assets, and generates automatic alerts via email or text when a hazard or non-compliance is detected.

The company is actively monitoring its flare stacks to help reduce negative environmental impact. With the help of FogHorn edge-enabled video analytics, Aramco can enable intelligent monitoring of flare stacks in real time, powered by deep learning. Aramco’s FogHorn-powered machine vision solution provides valuable insights that can be used for flare gas recovery systems to minimise flaring and the resulting emissions.

The FogHorn Lightning Edge AI platform embeds intelligence locally, at or near the source of streaming sensor, video and control data, providing low latency for on-site image processing and analysis. While video cameras were previously used to acquire images and videos, edge computing makes it possible for them to be “conscious” and “intelligent”.

Nabil Al Nuaim, Aramco’s Chief Digital officer, said: “Technologies like these help us to reach a successful digital transformation for Aramco and the regions it operates in.” He added that “Aramco’s investments in this field aim to increase accessibility of new digital technologies and create awareness of the benefits these novel technologies can have in areas such as health, safety, security and the environment. A perfect example of this is how FogHorn’s software could help strengthen Aramco’s leadership in flare minimisation.”

“Camera-based edge analytics enables automation of remote energy facilities and support our IoT edge infrastructure. Edge analytics streamline operations and provide staff with mission critical information to make time-sensitive decisions,” said Mahdi Adel, CEO of Aramco Ventures. “The Lightning Edge AI Platform facilitates the integration of new sensors and collects, validates, and enriches sensor data to identify patterns and create models that predict and mitigate problems, leading to more efficient operations. Our FogHorn-powered solutions enable real-time responses and help optimise production and safety at our facilities.”

“Energy organisations must embrace digital solutions as their businesses expand. Innovative technologies – such as edge computing and video analytics solutions – reduce operational costs and help companies keep up with growing industry demands while avoiding major incidents along the way,” said Sastry Malladi, CTO at FogHorn. “By pairing the clear comprehensibility of video streams with intelligent analytics, video becomes a powerful sensor that Aramco has leveraged to significantly improve business operations, production, safety, and efficiency.”