Mar 13, 2020

C3.ai and Shell: modernising oil and gas

Technology
Oil & Gas
William Girling
3 min
Oil industry giant Royal Dutch Shell has had a fruitful relationship with C3.ai since the two companies formed a partnership in 2018
Oil industry giant Royal Dutch Shell has had a fruitful relationship with

Oil industry giant Royal Dutch Shell has had a fruitful relationship with C3.ai since the two companies formed a partnership in 2018.

When Shell was looking for a tech partner to help it navigate through its tech transformation, it decided that deploying C3’s suite of AI services aimed at streamlining the oil and gas industry through increased safety, security, integrity and sustainability was the best choice. 

Leveraging Microsoft Azure as the method for utilising C3’s AI applications, Shell has been able to analyse high-risk assets and predict faults far in advance of a problem occurring, maintain optimised IoT sensors and conduct production-loss research with ease.

Helping to serve customers better

Highly satisfied with the results of using C3.ai, Jay Crotts, Shell Group Chief Information Officer (CIO), said that the partnership was unlocking the company’s potential

“With the C3 Platform‚ we’re looking forward to significantly enhancing the productivity and scope of our advanced analytics capabilities to create greater economic value across Shell’s operations.

“C3.ai allows us to optimize our existing investments in data and cloud infrastructure while accelerating time to value of AI-based applications‚ so Shell can better serve our customers with even more agility and efficiency.”

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Shell currently manages 280 AI projects at various stages of development, including locating drilling sites, maintaining the status of equipment and helping to steer the drilling process. 

“We’re using machines to do a lot of the [manual] work accurately that would take humans a very long time,” commented Dan Jeavons, General Manager of Data Science at Shell.

The labour-reducing capacity of AI and machine learning systems can be significant - in some cases as much as 80%, hastening the response-time to evets from months to weeks. 

Shell says that it will continue to expand its usage of AI, meaning its relationship with C3.ai will likely develop as the company augments its existing tech with new industry innovations, such as 5G which is predicted to vastly enhance AI and machine learning.

Confirming C3.ai as a ‘partner’ in the true sense of the word, Thomas M. Siebel, CEO, stated that more than simply providing Shell with software, the company was committed to joining it on a journey aimed at improving the energy sector for customers. 

“Shell’s selection of the C3 Platform on Microsoft Azure reflects the growing macro-market momentum towards platform adoption for accelerated digital transformation.

“We are excited to partner closely with Azure to support Shell’s digital transformation journey and are jointly committed to Shell’s success in applying AI and machine learning across its global business.”

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Jun 14, 2021

Amazon tests new technology to improve employee safety

Technology
Amazon
robots
Innovation
3 min
Amazon is testing new technologies in an effort to make handling packages safer for employees

At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.

Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.

A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.

Motion-capture technology

One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.

The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.

“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”

Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety

In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.

“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”

“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility. 

‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities. 

In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’ 

Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots. 

“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”

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