The future of drilling: Maersk Drilling embraces Mixed Reality and the cloud to usher in a new era of transformation

Metal structure from below

A new partnership between Maersk Drilling and Microsoft has removed heavy paper-based administration for an engineer on a drilling rig, thanks to the  HoloLens glass that Mixed Reality capabilities of HoloLens.

The Mixed Reality technology allows virtual objects to be placed in real-world environments, allowing wearers of the HoloLens to stay connected to their surroundings, while viewing and manipulating virtual information. This new project is part of Maersk Drilling’s innovation initiative which develops digital solutions to the company’s fleet of drilling rigs.

The initiative began with an ambitious dream of transforming 30,000 data points from pipes, valves and heavy steel constructions on a Maersk Drilling rig on high seas, to a virtual scenario in which an engineer receives instructions from his Microsoft HoloLens glass and marks the task as solved with the blink of an eye. The project – which combines Mixed Reality with the most recent cloud technology – is currently being realized.

“The project is a part of our overall digital innovation initiative, in which we last year established a special unit in charge of developing digital solutions. The Mixed Reality project was one of the first ideas that was put on the table, and the time period from idea to prototype has been extremely short,” says Marika Reis, Head of Innovation in Maersk Drilling.

Increases efficiency and security
Maersk Drilling operates globally and currently operates a fleet of 24 rigs with recurring needs related to maintenance and inspections. The company is working intensively to develop new digital solutions that, for example, integrate Microsoft’s technology and simplify complex inspection tasks by making relevant data accessible directly in a Mixed Reality environment.

Marika Reis from Maersk Drilling explains:

”With the intelligent use of technology, we can increase efficiency and security on our rigs, like when the HoloLens glasses reminds the employee to remember to check all inspection points. In addition, the single tasks become less time-consuming, as we can remove all the paperwork and mark a point with the blink of eye, literally. When we stand on open sea and must perform the same inspections over and over, the glasses can help us maintain focus, predict risks and react immediately. And this is merely one application of a technology with a much wider potential.”

ocean from above

Drilling rig connected to the Cloud
The technology behind the demanding handling of thousands of data points takes place through Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure. The combination of Azure and Mixed Reality will become a state-of-the-art example in Denmark of how the real and virtual world is mixed in the future workplace, Frederik Braun, Director of Enterprise at Microsoft Denmark, explains:

”We are very excited that Maersk Drilling chooses to apply the latest cloud technology, and we consider this partnership a milestone in the Danish market. This is a good example of how technology can strengthen the human ability to make decisions based on data. The new technology allows Maersk Drilling to apply data in real time to forecast and fix potential scenarios, and this will be an essential competence for the industrial businesses of the future,” says Frederik Braun.

It is the interactive consultancy, Kanda, who has developed the technique to map the many scenarios that can strengthen and increase the efficiency of maintenance and the general operations on the rig.

“The project is cutting-edge, because it demonstrates innovative use of technology in the challenging work environment on a drilling rig. We strive to bring innovative technology to the market in a fast and agile way, and with the close partnership with Maersk Drilling’s new Innovation Hub, we have reduced the project’s time-to-market significantly,” says Kristian Emil Andreasen, Director of Kanda.

oil rig in ocean
Photo: MEDVIND/Bent Sørensen

Engages users and optimizes operations
Concurrently with the virtual-prepared security inspections, Maersk Drilling has, for example, tested the so-called “digital twin” model, in which the glasses are used for interactive cooperation with the company’s clients. By developing a virtual model of each drilling rig and connecting it with a feed of live data from the rig, Maersk Drilling can provide clients with a much more detailed overview of the drilling operation. The company has already involved selected clients in the project and their feedback has been highly positive.

And the dream does not end here. Maersk Drilling considers the HoloLens technology as an integral part of the future of the visual drilling rig, in which the crew can use the Microsoft HoloLens glasses to coordinate with the digital platform that will control all parts of the operations. By taking advantage of the opportunities of the Mixed Reality technology, related to putting a digital layer above what you can see in the psychical world, the glasses provide the opportunity to receive data analysis and insights in real time.

“We believe that Mixed Reality has the potential to be an essential component in creating a completely paper-free work environment with an entirely problem-free cooperation between all parts of the chain. The dream is to enable a daily operation of the rig in which everybody receives actual information about what happens and what colleagues are doing, and in this way are able to optimize all actions. On the basis of the employees’ demands and the concrete tasks, we build a system that can be an essential competitiveness factor for us in the future,” says Marika Reis, Head of Innovation in Maersk Drilling.

Tags: , , , ,

Related Posts