• What role does artificial intelligence (AI) play in revamping downstream facilities that are scaling back on conventional fuels production while upgrading to capture value from new products?



  • Bradley Ford, KBC (A Yokogawa Company),

    The growing scarcity of skilled labour is impacting the performance of facilities worldwide. In fact, a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute reports that the manufacturing skills gap in the US alone could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, resulting in a projected cost totalling $1 trillion. As the industry pushes for optimisation, the infrastructure’s increasing complexity poses a challenge. KBC is observing the emergence of various types of AI technologies that are starting to address these challenges.

    For example, process simulation technologies are prevalent at nearly all global assets, operating as process digital twins or online real-time optimisers. However, simulation models that reflect reality still require calibration from engineers. KBC now sees AI handling this critical task to:
    - Monitor the asset and models
    - Identify when calibration is lost
    - Automatically recalibrate it.

    The critical impact is allowing the available finite human resources to focus on higher-value tasks.

    Looking into the next steps, generative AI’s capabilities are potentially game-changing in capturing organisational knowledge that is dispersed across silos, contextualising that knowledge, and allowing junior staff to use it for idea generation. Careful oversight is needed to prevent generative AI systems from ‘hallucinating’ or producing theoretical outputs that conflict with the data on which the algorithm has been trained. Hence, training programmes are required to educate staff on how to leverage generative AI to create ideas for improvement, which still requires peer reviews before implementation.



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