December 2023, Renewable India, Commtel Networks:
In the dynamic landscape of digital communication, surveillance, security, and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, the year 2023 witnessed a continued evolution within the oil & gas, power, mining, transportation, and critical national infrastructure (CNI) sectors.
The pace of modernization and upgrading efforts varied across organizations and industry verticals, with larger entities showcasing more mature IT/OT infrastructure and cybersecurity capabilities. This overview, provided by Commtel Networks (CN), delves into the state of these sectors, highlighting challenges and advancements.
From the persistent cybersecurity concerns to the gradual transition toward 5G networks and the adoption of innovative technologies like AI and blockchain, this exploration outlines the major trends that shaped the industry landscape and examines how Commtel Networks strategically positions itself to leverage emerging technologies for the benefit of critical infrastructure providers.
Join us as we navigate through the responses of Commtel Networks to gain insights into the transformative journey of these pivotal sectors.
Q1. How would you characterize the overall state of the digital communication, surveillance, security, and AI solutions within the Oil & Gas, Power, Mining, Transportation, and CNI sectors this year?
CN: The oil & gas, power, mining, transportation, and critical national infrastructure (CNI) sectors likely continued modernizing and upgrading their digital infrastructure and capabilities in 2023.
While digitalization efforts continue across those industrial sectors, the maturity and integration likely vary significantly by specific company and industry vertical. Larger organizations likely have more established IT/OT infrastructure, data science teams, and cybersecurity capabilities. Smaller players may still be in early stages. Budgets impact adoption of latest AI/ML innovations. Regulatory compliance is also a key driver, especially for CNI sectors.
(i) Cybersecurity remains a growing challenge as these sectors often lag on updates.
(ii) Communication networks are transitioning slowly towards 5G for private networks with availability issues in remote regions. Existing 4G LTE, 3G and radio networks still bridge gaps. Unifying IT/OT connectivity remains tricky with legacy systems.
(iii) Compliance requirements around safety, uptime, and reporting have accelerated some modernization efforts as automation allows for more real-time data flows and oversight.
Q2. What were the major trends and developments that shaped the industry landscape?
CN: To list a few:
- Shift from preventative to predictive maintenance of assets via AI/ML fuelled by IoT sensor data.
- Automation of knowledge work via conversational interfaces and natural language processing.
- Increasing use of digital twins and simulations to model complex systems.
- Leveraging AR/VR for training, operations, and remote assistance.
- Securing operational infrastructure through managed security services.
(i) Transition to public cloud has been gradual over security and availability concerns. Hybrid multi-cloud models allow deployment across platforms and leverage SaaS where applicable to enable mobility and collaboration.
(ii) Autonomous transportation pilots are progressing around haul trucks, drones, and robotics. Teams are balancing potential efficiency gains with upfront costs; job impacts and regulatory hurdles. AI training requires significant subject matter expertise and data.
(iii)Upstream oil platforms and liquefied natural gas facilities are ideal environments for trialling digital twin capabilities fed by hundreds of IoT sensors. This allows for both simulations and virtual reps of existing assets.
Q3. Are there any emerging technologies that are reshaping the landscape, and how is the company positioning itself to leverage these?
CN: Summarizing a few:
- Commercial drone delivery/analytics solutions suitable for remote sites.
- Secure private 5G/LTE networks and edge computing capabilities.
- Blockchain-based supply chain tracking and logistics.
- Autonomous inspection robots for dangerous sites.
- AI-enabled large language models for analyzing documentation, safety protocols.
To expand upon a few:
a. Mobile robotics offer inspection, monitoring and mapping suited for hazardous industrial environments. Their autonomy makes them useful for emergencies where sending in human crews would be dangerous.
b. Battery storage advances make microgrids with local renewable generation increasingly viable for remote sites to avoid supply interruptions. EVs also progressing for light utility vehicles.
c. Blockchain’s value is being explored for supply chain tracking and logistics by establishing shared records of transactions and movements. This could aid vendors in transparent end-to-end tracking.
As an established yet fast-moving company delivering advanced solutions to critical infrastructure providers, we recognize the importance of constantly evaluating and integrating cutting-edge technologies into our offerings and our operations. To leverage emerging technologies like IoT sensors, drones, 5G private networks, AI algorithms, and blockchain platforms, we have an internal Future Technologies team – AI & DT Unit – focused on understanding the CNI technology landscape, running proofs of concept, and forging partnerships, besides having developed two AI-based platforms.
As we step into the future, Commtel Networks remains poised to navigate the evolving terrain of technological advancements in the critical sectors it serves.