Since the 2014 oil and gas downturn, the industry reinvented itself in order to rebound. What has emerged from the chaos of 2014 is not your father’s oil and gas industry. After decades of unwillingness to adapt and adopt technology, the oil and gas industry was finally forced to do so. Working with smaller profit margins than ever before, technology has allowed the industry to modernize and digitalize. By doing so, it can remain competitive.
Leading the way in the oil and gas industry’s transformation is data and data management. Once oil and gas companies got their hands on sensors and started sticking them all over the oilfields, the digital oilfield was born. However, to have big data, does not mean that one has the magic key to the proverbial kingdom. With big data comes big aggregations and manipulations and the challenge of where to store it all.
OILMAN Magazine had the opportunity to step outside of North America and gain some insight into retails data management and downstream supply logistics from Tim Hoffmeister, CEO of Implico. The international company headquartered in Germany has subsidiaries in North America, Asia and Europe, as well as customers all over the world. Tim took some time to introduce Implico and explain how data and automation are becoming ever more prevalent in downstream retail distribution.
Unique Data Solutions
While there are many companies offering data and supply management services, the important question is what makes Implico unique in this area? Tim responded: “When it comes to data communications, our service portfolio iGOS – Implico Global Operating Services – is as unique as it is efficient. It handles the entire data communication between downstream companies, translating and, if needed, fixing the data they exchange. iGOS collects input from various sources and distributes the respective information in streamlined, optimized form. If an entry is missing, iGOS scans the connected data bases to identify and complement the searched-for piece. That way, the data arrives at its destination complete, sorted and readable.”
Automation is Key
Another core competency of Implico is process automation. “Our specialist solutions cover every aspect of the downstream supply chain,” explains Tim. “For tank farms, we have the feature-rich terminal management system OpenTAS available. It handles all operations inside and outside the plant: automating tasks, managing inventory, processing data, communicating with field equipment, connecting with ERP systems, reaching out to trading partners and much more. OpenTAS supports all means of transport and is fully scalable to meet the different needs of forward-looking tank storage operators. For petrol station management and hydrocarbons distribution, there are the SAP standard solutions SAP RFNO (Retail Fuel Network Operations) and SAP SDM (Secondary Distribution Management). Both are developed by Implico.”
Work in the North American Market
Since OILMAN’S audience is primarily located in North America, we must ask the following question: While you are headquartered in Europe, what kind of work do you do in North America?
“Implico operates globally. Since North America is a key market for us, we opened a subsidiary in Philadelphia in 2005.” Tim drills down into the details of what Implico does in North America, “Our focus lies on the storage and petrol station businesses and we offer a broad range of services in the fields of terminal management and fuel retailing. Our customers in North America include oil majors and big retailers alike. On the one hand, we provide them with consulting and guidance, especially on their digital transformation journeys. On the other hand, we deliver automation software, web services and cloud solutions for oil and gas.”
Downstream Technology and Real-time Data Keep the Pumps from Running Dry
Predictive analytics are a unique tool used to decipher big data and make changes according to supply. Imagine, it’s a big holiday weekend and there’s a well-traveled highway near a stadium with a major concert going on. The gas stations near the stadium are going to be getting slammed with more customers than normal and to avert the pumps from running dry, the software calls for an increase in supply to match those demand levels. Tim dives into the details: “A key feature of SAP RFNO is Continuous Station Replenishment. It handles the complete forecasting and planning for petrol station networks, creating advanced consumption patterns and replenishment plans for all connected locations. For maximum accuracy and reliability, it taps into different sources: point-of-sale data, tank level readings and pump values. If needed, it even considers special incidents and occasions. For example, if a big concert or sports event happens near a petrol station, Continuous Station Replenishment will anticipate an increase in traffic during that time.”
Implico works with SAP to manage gas station fuel distribution with two kinds of software developed by Implico: SAP RFNO and SAP SDM. Both solutions move all processes to the background, where they steer and run them automatically. Tim explains that, “In a petrol station network, SAP RFNO and SAP SDM receive extensive data from every location. Based on this information, they register and process all transactions – fuel fillings, shop purchases, extra services and so on. At the end of each workday, they provide the proper recipients in accounting and administration with a detailed report. And they also initiate potential follow-up processes automatically.”
With new downstream technologies and services like the ones mentioned above, the way the industry keeps its supplies flowing is evolving for the better. Companies like Implico make it possible to have better supply chain management in the downstream and retail sectors of the oil and gas value chain.
Eissler, former editor-in- chief of Oil & Gas Engineering magazine, previously worked as an editor for Dubai-based The Oil & Gas Year Magazine.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.