An industry in trouble? How low-code might help Oil & Gas

The Oil & Gas industry is under fire. With the impacts of COVID-19 along with already slim margins and big moves towards renewables, things might feel a little unsteady. I would argue that this could be a simple case of ‘growing pains’ depending on the actions that Oil & Gas industry players take. Operational efficiency has never been more important and comes with a need to broaden the portfolio of offerings and services to make sure you stay in the game. The obvious question here is simple; how?  

Oil&Gas industry

I’d like to introduce you to the world of low-code software development in the form of smart apps from TimeSeries. TimeSeries is the number one services and solutions partner of Siemens’ low code platform, Mendix. In this post, we will explore the key challenges the industry is facing, what industry leaders are doing to combat them, and how working with  TimeSeries to build a Mendix low-code application development environment could be the right route for you.

Smart apps & operational efficiency 

As the leading partner of Mendix, TimeSeries has been closely involved in some of the largest low-code roll outs in fortune 2000 companies. As I mentioned, with thin margins and COVID-19, operational efficiency is now more important than ever. Let’s take ConocoPhillips as an example. With operational effectiveness and its competitive position in mind, ConocoPhillips partnered with Mendix in a strategic move towards low-code application development.

ConocoPhillips is leveraging a center of excellence (CoE) to build digital solutions that offer value for the business….ConocoPhillips has rolled out 20 enterprise-grade applications, with more in the works. With that experience, the company is now able to develop apps five times faster and enlist a broader range of talent to develop applications.” 

The idea for Conoco was to create applications that could be used across the company and that could offer more value for the business, and differentiate ConocoPhillips from other leaders in the industry. Basically, they were expanding those thin margins and improving operational efficiency. The Mendix platform made this possible and Concoco has continued to grow their center of excellence (CoE) since. 

At TimeSeries, when we work with a company we focus on accelerating the ROI of their low-code investments. We do this through our Smart App Factory. TimeSeries Smart App Factory is designed to help you leverage modern technologies, like IoT, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, with low-code at its center to reach your full potential. Through a well developed and collaborative process, TimeSeries will walk you through the steps to take. We’ll work with you and your team to take ideas for innovation, refine them and turn them into feasible projects. From there we create a smooth process for development with operations, are constantly measuring value, and even offer two additional factory services around enterprise architecture and governance. This process ensures that you and your team are set up for success on your low-code journey. 

Beyond our SmartApp Factory, we decided we wanted to expand on the reusability that the Mendix platform offers, so we created entire suites of our low-code smart app templates. We saw repeatable problems across industries and decided that these templates will give people a starting point to build from. This means you’re already ahead of the competition on day one. These templated building blocks of applications can be customized to fit your needs in weeks, saving you months of development time. Another great feature is that most templates can be applied to just about any industry or domain, since we customize each one to perfectly fit your unique needs. A few of my personal favorites include the following:

  • Predictive Maintenance – TimeSeries’ Predictive Maintenance enables you to predict when assets need maintenance before they break down. Saving you time, money and potential business.
  • Field Services Planning – Save time and money by automatically planning your valuable resources. Plan faster, smarter and optimized!
  • Intelligent Insight – Leverage innovative Big Data technology to turn your data into actionable insights! Create customer focused services, reduce customer churn and convert prospects to paying customers. Easier and faster than ever!

Smart applications that are scalable, accessible, and faster to develop than traditional methods bring efficiency, new insights and add value for businesses across the board. You can directly see that with ConocoPhillips and their experience with Mendix. 

But, what is a low-code smart app exactly? How do you know if you should go low-code? Check out our two part blog post that walks through the top 8 organizational criteria to consider, and the top 8 technical criteria to consider in selecting a low-code development platform.

Smart apps & starting new revenue streams with a broader portfolio

While ConocoPhillips is seemingly paving the way for low-code in the Oil & Gas industry, what about expanding into new realms as well? Deloitte recently published an article, COVID-19’s impact on oil, gas, and chemical organizations noting that one of the potential long-term impacts of the pandemic on the oil and gas industry includes, “Some of the larger, healthier companies may alter or accelerate their plans to diversify into other energy segments, promoting a change in business model.” This is already happening! Shell is one of those larger, healthier, companies that has already started to expand its portfolios into the energy sector. Shell’s plan currently rests on 5 areas:

“A greater emphasis on lubricants, chemicals and biofuels; the development of a significantly larger renewable energy generation portfolio and carbon offset plan; the continued development of hydrogen and natural gas assets while slashing oil production by 1% to 2% per year; and investing heavily in carbon capture and storage.”

This is a big move to make, even for an established company such as Shell. With an extreme focus on renewable and clean energy, it’s clear that Shell’s leaders have a lot of changes to engineer and make successful. They will need to manage the new resources, revenue streams, and technology that’s included with these changes. How well they manage this shift could be defining for the future of the company.

For Shell, I might recommend our Energy Smart App Suite of templates, that we made specifically for the energy & utilities industry. With Shell looking to roll out 500,000 new charging stations and this push to basically become an energy leader, there’s going to be a lot of data, and a lot of maintenance to keep up with.

While Shell might be moving towards the complete energy sector, there is still a need to maintain oil and gas operations and greatly increase operational efficiency there. For this side of things, I would recommend our Cross Industry Smart App Suite of templates to find a starting point. Need inspiration? 

Custom Smart App examples within the oil and gas industry

Below are some of the applications that we have created specifically for our Oil & Gas industry customers:

  • Well monitoring application: Provides insights into the total well count, how many have been added, how many depleted, and more!  
  • Facilities management application: Ensures each party involved in facilities management approves of any and all changes being made.
  • Replacement applications: Multiple applications to replace Excel based workflows with integrated Mendix solutions. These applications are used to speed up the process, add consistency, transparency, and ease-of-use when it comes to measuring the economics of new deals or streamlining pricing strategies. 
  • Personnel tracker: Shows who works on what, and when. 
  • Note taking application: Used by people in the field to provide updates around wells, compressors, facilities, and more. We also extended functionality to include a “plan of the day”, which is a daily curated report of notes drawn from within the application and compiled by leadership in the field to track and drive completion of tasks.
  • Cost tracker: An application used to track job costs for facility work
  • Opportunity tracker: Used to highlight and prioritize improvement opportunities relating to field assets.
  • Pre start-up safety review application: A form application used to track and document safety requirements for facility startup after improvements or construction completion.
  • Well maintenance and integrity tracking application: Used to monitor integrity of concrete casings in well construction and identify possible points of failure based on changing values of frequent tests. 
  • Permitting application: Draws in lots of data from source systems to help record and track permits relating to field assets.

These applications are just a glimpse of what we can do and give you insight into our industry knowledge and application development expertise. Whatever your application development requirements, a low-code approach will very likely offer a better approach than traditional code-based development, and TimeSeries offers you the expertise and low-code templates you need to be successful… 

What do you think? I’m eager to talk and to help. Please feel free to drop me a line directly with any questions and I’ll connect you with the right person.

April 2, 2021
Maggie Burnham