09 June 2021
Los Angeles, CA
 
Beyond Limits Refinery & Process Manufacturing Product Manager, Leslie Rittenberg joined a stellar International Refining and Petroleum Conference (IRPC) line-up with industry experts from BASF, Shell, Dow, ENI, Tupras, Schneider Electric, and more to discuss Harnessing Cognitive Technology in Refining to Accelerate Digitization.
 
Check out the talk to learn how refiners like bp are using AI to close the profitability gap and operate closer to plan. Watch this recording or read the transcript below.

 

 

READ THE FULL CASE STUDY ON HOW AI CAN INCREASE REFINERY PROFITABILITY HERE.

 

Video transcript:
 
Welcome, I’m Leslie Rittenberg, the Refinery and Process Manufacturing Product Manager from Beyond Limits. Today, we’re going to be talking about harnessing cognitive technology in refining to accelerate digitization.
 
I think we’ve been on some great digital journeys over the last couple of years and improved in many spaces; everybody would like to know how to continue to use AI as we operate closer to plan. 
 
We’ve used machine learning and AI applications as they relate to availability and optimization; this talk is going to be focused on a discussion in the optimization space as it relates to refining.
 
When optimizing, what do we strive for? We certainly strive for better raw material yields, wanting faster and more confident decision-making by our operators. We want to always improve our product quality without too much product giveaway. We want to be able to respond to the constraint management challenges and bottlenecks we face in our plants. We postulate that, if we use AI, it’s going to help us start to significantly improve in all of these areas.
 
What have been some of our challenges? 
 
I know many of us have done a significant amount of proof of concepts, trying to deploy new software products. In all of those journeys, what we’re trying to do is capture our work and knowledge then encode and digitize that information as fast as possible. This is a race to accelerate and digitize across a business. We want to accomplish this as effectively as possible without facing an extreme amount of programming.
 
We have also found that we don’t want a black box solution. We want to understand how our models, AI, and advanced analytics come to their conclusions and give us the recommendations that we can trust. 
 
Finally, humans still need to be kept in the loop with the ability to continue making context-rich decisions. If we do not have consistent and trustworthy results from our AI models, then we have difficulty in deploying and using them.
 
Here’s a diagram that shows a little bit of the journey we’ve been on. We certainly have improved our process data. We’ve brought a lot of that data into the cloud and spent a lot of time cleaning up data quality. In many cases, we’ve deployed new sensors for even stronger confidence in our numeric solutions.
 
We’ve also deployed numeric AI – which has helped us see things faster or understand certain relationships that we didn’t previously understand, training them on a lot of historical data. We are now alerting and visualizing messages to be more proactive in our plants, as opposed to reactive.
 
However, many numeric AI programs still give us false positives in several cases. Again, this goes back to the level of trust that we have and the amount of work needed to dismiss the false positives; we have a lot of work, in terms of model breakdown, and in sustaining those models, to give us the best solutions.
 
With anything, because of the safety-critical nature of all of our businesses, we really want our operators to buy into the solution, so they can trust it and take the optimal course of action.
 
So, what can we do about this?
 
We can start to insert what Beyond Limits is recommending: symbolic AI. It’s a more effective hybrid – or composite solution – that is going to start closing the gaps and deficiencies we’ve been experiencing with solely numeric AI solutions. Symbolic AI has human-like reasoning and solving capabilities that can help us with the deficiencies we’ve been seeing in numeric AI.
 
What do we want it to do? 
 
We wanted to improve that decision support package for the humans in the loop, predominantly our operators. The solution can recommend classifications, give us confidence scores, and provide recommendations. Most noteworthy, the solution can act as a glass box, providing cognitive traces that explain how it came to its conclusions. We are also able to interact with the solution, increasing operator trust and reducing uncertainty; ultimately, arriving at a faster time-to-decision and upscaling our workforce simultaneously.
 
Now let’s get deeper into refinery-specific challenges.
 
Over the years, especially in the space of optimization, we’ve been innovative – and with most of us utilizing advantage feedstock programs. We’ve improved our profitability by buying cheaper feedstocks and crudes, and they generally have more challenging needs when processing them in our refinery; having higher sulfur and are heavier crudes by far.
 
Also, especially with last year’s pandemic, we’ve seen a large amount of our experienced workforce depart. Many of the major oil and gas companies offered severance packages with the challenging P&L operations, and a lot of experience was lost. 
 
Finally, with product demand challenges that we saw result from the pandemic (and cyberattacks), large volatility in our refinery margins is a persistent problem. We’ve responded well over the years by incrementally improving our margins. Many of us have invested in the front end of our kits, modifying our crude units, and began the process of major capital investments. 
 
It’s not unusual to be faced with new bottlenecks and constraints that show up downstream of your refinery. When faced with those constraints, they present new operational challenges when it comes to executing a commercial plan. They can create volatility in plant operations, often changing the predictability of catalyst life, as well as instigate unplanned maintenance and downtime. We’ve all seen these challenges, knowing that our operators always need assistance and support from engineering experts.
 
Here’s a diagram as we start to think about how we execute our refinery commercial plans. As you can see, on the bottom level, we have some very strong systems and control processes. We’ve invested heavily over the years to automate and to have a high level of confidence in the performance of that equipment. 
 
On the top level, we’ve clearly invested in our planning and scheduling processes. We’ve improved our models in that space, we have very capable staff in that space, and we have high expectations that we’re going to deliver a very executable and profitable plan when we process our different crude feedstocks.
 
Now, if we look at the middle section, we have improved our operations staff over the years through simulator training and obviously have turnover in that space, providing good training when we bring on new staff. 
 
But if we think about it in all honesty, how we hand over the plan that we want them to execute flawlessly each time, has not changed tremendously over the years. We still experience, even though we have definitely improved levels one, two and four, we still have a gap between our plan and actual execution when we carry out a commercial plan. 
 
Beyond Limits felt we could place an advisor in this space to close that profitability gap, serving as an assistant to operations in real-time and identifying plan versus actual performance with full transparency as one source of the truth. This would provide the ability to execute closer to plan. 
 
The advisor also works to encode expert engineering knowledge, actually helping operators solve the gap problem in real-time. It deploys an AI reasoner that looks at process constraints and recognizes the best commercial options for an operator to utilize in order to adjust the plant and achieve a higher level of profitability. It iterates and tells the planning and scheduling organization whether their plan was as achievable as they thought it would and/or where the gaps for improvement exist. 
 
Over time, we are seeing an improvement in adherence-to-plan as well as the increased ability to iterate across an entire organization and fundamentally improve the capacity to deliver solutions that shrink plan gaps.
 
We have deployed our solution at a very large complex refinery in Indiana; bp’s Whiting refinery is within the top 10 of the largest, most complex refineries in the US. Before implementing our solution, they were struggling in a couple of places.
 
For example, when they were doing feedstock campaign changes, they would have inconsistent operations and a larger than average unsteady state during those changes. They were faced with competing priorities in their constraints and, at times, operators did not fully understand the instructions or the priorities that were coming from the commercial group. Due to this, they would have uncertainty in their decision-making leading to flawed commercial execution.
 
The solution we deployed had a no-code SaaS application in the cloud. It allowed bp to optimize according to the plan, closer to 100% of the time. The unsteady state that they were experiencing during campaign changes was reduced, and they upgraded to higher-value products. Overall, operator agility was accelerated with increased confidence leading to faster decision-making.
 
Another incredible thing around the solution’s deployment was the adoption time. I’ve been involved in software deployment packages over the years in many different plants; bp’s Whiting team was successful in adopting this program in one month. They were able to engage with their entire process and optimization engineers and create over 200 complex refinery objectives to represent their commercial plan. They represented this with no code-in language, with which operators were very familiar.
 
After deployment, we monitored their ability to meet the plan and we saw a 17% improvement in operating to plan. We also saw that they used over 2000 real-time sensors to help the operators evaluate and prioritize.
 
Beyond Limits is excited to bring these AI products to many different industries and within the oil and gas sector.
 
The example I just gave you was just one of our solutions – our Refinery Operations Advisor package. We also have offers in the well production space with well infill and well health solutions. Well infill is focused on improving overall production and helping production teams better understand where to drill while well health manages the health and asset monitoring around wells. 
 
Our Cognitive Formulation Advisor is also helping the lubrication portion of our business create more economical formulations, faster.
 
In power and water, we also have sensor placement solutions – while in healthcare, we have a smart patient monitoring solution. We offer investment solutions to the finance industry as well.
 
Thank you for your time; I’m looking forward to answering any questions you may have.
 
 
READ THE FULL CASE STUDY ON HOW AI CAN INCREASE REFINERY PROFITABILITY HERE

 

 

 

20 MAY 2021
LOS ANGELES, CA
 
Beyond Limits Senior Machine Learning Scientist, Vidyasagar presented a technical session on GPU-accelerated Deep Reinforcement Learning for Field Planning at NIVIDA GTC 2021.
 
Check out the full GTC technical talk to learn about using reinforcement learning for the sequential decision-making process of well-placement optimization and how to maximize net present dollar value (NPV).
 
 
 
About this GTC Talk
 
Recently, GPU-accelerated reinforcement learning (RL) using deep convolution neural networks has gained significant traction. This presentation describes RL applied to the sequential decision-making process of well-placement optimization in the upstream energy industry.
 
High-fidelity multiphase porous media flow simulations of geological subsurface reservoirs are coupled with the placement of sources/sinks corresponding to wells; the goal of this process is to maximize net present dollar value (NPV) obtained through cumulative production.
 
Due to high-resolution reservoir grids and a combinatorial explosion in the number of possible spatial and temporal steps for placement of wells, the optimization routine is intractable and requires high-performance computing (HPC) strategies to solve realistic systems.
 
In this presentation, the advantages of RL over other conventional methods will be described, together with benchmark examples and results obtained on several reservoir models. The use of A100 GPUs to accelerate the learning and inference aspects of reinforcement learning will be shown to yield significant improvements in both performance and the best NPV solutions obtained by the optimization routine. Finally, the future of deep RL in the context of HPC and scientific simulation in energy will be outlined.
 
LEARN ALL ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH NVIDIA HERE.

 

 

 

International Refining and Petroleum Conference (IRPC) Process is being held virtually on June 2-3.
 
The impact of COVID-19 on the downstream industry, and the world, is undeniable. What has not changed is the need for information on innovative, developing technologies that can revolutionize business, improve efficiencies, and streamline processes. IRPC is an innovative virtual conference designed with the needs of today in mind. Held June 2-3 2021, IRPC Process Technology will provide a platform for knowledge-sharing, networking, and making business connections with leaders in the downstream sector.
 
IRPC Process Online is FREE to attend! Register here to join a conversation with downstream innovators in refining, petrochemical, gas processing, and academia to connect and share ideas on how to move the industry forward.
 
Leslie Rittenberg, Beyond Limits Refinery & Process Manufacturing Product Manager, joins the stellar IRPC Process line-up with industry experts from BASF, Shell, Dow, ENI, Tupras, Schneider Electric, and more.
 
Don’t miss Leslie’s talk: Harnessing Cognitive Technology in Refining to Accelerate Digitization – June 3rd at 4:00pm CT.
 
The talk will dive deeper into how advanced technologies such as AI can improve efficiencies, including:
 
 
Refiners won’t want to miss this one! To join in on the conversation with Beyond Limits REGISTER HERE.
 
LEARN HOW AI CAN IMPROVE OPERATING CONSISTENCY ACROSS PLAN CYCLES & SHIFTS BY WATCHING THIS VIDEO HERE.
 
 
 
 
22 April 2021
Los Angeles, CA

 

Are you looking to scale AI projects from proof-of-concept to organization-wide deployment? Join Michael Krause, Beyond Limits Sr. Manager of AI Solutions, for The Innovator’s Playbook: From R&D to O&G. This talk will discuss the roadmap for successfully putting R&D into practice, from identifying the business case to data management, modeling, and deployment.
 
Check out this talk to learn how to define the business case, why AI is only as good as the data it’s built on, and the importance of domain expertise for improving implementation.
 
 
 
 
For nearly forty years, CERAWeek has been providing an integrated framework for understanding what’s ahead for global energy markets, geopolitics, and technology. Participants include senior executives, government officials, thought leaders, academics, technology innovators, and financial leaders.​ 
 
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF COGNITIVE AI HERE.
 
 
 
 
16 March 2021
Los Angeles, CA
 
 
Beyond Limits is inventing the future at NVIDIA GTC on April 12-16, 2021.
 
GTC is where prestigious scientists and industry pioneers share their breakthroughs in AI, data centers, accelerated computing, healthcare, intelligent networking, game development, and more. Join us at this virtual conference for AI innovators, technologies, and creatives.
 
 
Beyond Limits CTO of Industrial AI, Shahram Farhadi will be speaking on Leveraging GPU-accelerated Hybrid AI Frameworks for Energy on Monday, April 12.
 
Hybrid AI frameworks have seen widespread adoption across industries recently. These frameworks allow the integration of legacy simulation engines and domain knowledge with modern deep learning (DL)/machine learning (ML) solutions. The GPU-accelerated training of industrial-scale, high-fidelity DL models allows for accurate predictions while honoring constraints from related physical equations; domain knowledge offers transparency and explainability.
 
Shahram’s talk gives an overview of hybrid modeling paradigms using an upstream example of a novel GPU-centric field planning solution. This solves the problem of determining drilling locations, given reservoir geological characteristics, to increase efficiency and value while reducing environmental impact. Hybrid solutions combine simulation-based reinforcement learning with a graph-based, knowledge-driven advisor. Shahram will discuss hybrid modeling benefits and show runtime benchmarks on A100 GPUs – then end with an outlook for hybrid AI and HPC-based workflows across energy, including power and utilities.
 
 
Beyond Limits Senior Machine Learning Scientist, Vidyasagar will be presenting a technical session on GPU-accelerated Deep Reinforcement Learning for Field Planning on Tuesday, April 13.
 
Recently, GPU-accelerated reinforcement learning (RL), using deep neural networks, has gained significant traction. Vidyasagar will describe RL applied to the sequential decision-making of well placement in the upstream energy industry. High-fidelity simulations of geological subsurface reservoirs are coupled with the placement of sources/sinks corresponding to wells; the goal is to maximize net present dollar value (NPV) obtained through cumulative production. Due to high-resolution grids and combinatorial explosion in the number of possible spatiotemporal steps, the optimization routine is intractable and requires high-performance computing (HPC) strategies to solve realistic systems.
 
The presentation will summarize industrial benchmark results where A100 GPUs accelerate training and inference aspects of reinforcement learning, yielding significant performance improvements and ideal NPV solutions. Finally, Vidyasagar will outline the future of deep RL in the context of HPC in energy.
 
 
LEARN MORE ABOUT BEYOND LIMITS AND NVIDIA’S PARTNERSHIP HERE.
 
 
 
 
11 March 2021
Los Angeles, CA

 

The current pace of AI innovation is accelerating in the energy sector, jump-starting a need for high-performance AI. Join Shahram Farhadi, Beyond Limits CTO of Industrial AI, along with Marc Spieler, NVIDIA Global Director of Energy, for this CERAWeek Lyceum talk that discusses why high-performance computing resources are critical for new AI paradigms in the energy industry, especially the computationally heavy upstream sector.
 
Check out this talk to discover:
 
 
 
 
 
For nearly forty years, CERAWeek has been providing an integrated framework for understanding what’s ahead for global energy markets, geopolitics, and technology. Participants include senior executives, government officials, thought leaders, academics, technology innovators, and financial leaders.​ 
 
 
LEARN MORE ABOUT BEYOND LIMITS’ PARTNERSHIP WITH NVIDIA HERE.
 
 
 
 
11 March 2021
Los Angeles, CA

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions are providing industries unparalleled opportunities to be at the forefront of digital transformation by optimizing human decision-making to achieve ideal operational performance. Join Yonatan Hagos, Beyond Limits CPO, for this CERAWeek talk on Revolutionizing Human Decision with AI and Digitization.
 
Check out this talk to learn how AI is used to embed knowledge and expertise in critical work processes that augment human decision-making, ultimately driving transformative efficiency.
 
 
 
 
For nearly forty years, CERAWeek has been providing an integrated framework for understanding what’s ahead for global energy markets, geopolitics, and technology. Participants include senior executives, government officials, thought leaders, academics, technology innovators, and financial leaders.​ 
 
 
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW AI IS FAST-TRACKING ENTERPRISE AI ADOPTION HERE.
 
 
 
 
08 March 2021
Los Angeles, CA
 
 
Digital transformation and the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have begun. Crucial next-steps involve using AI to transform big data into strategic business outcomes for the oil and gas industry. How can operations, market analysis, and business support teams within upstream, midstream, and downstream industries benefit from this AI transformation? How will AI and machine learning (ML) technologies pave the way for a more sustainable future where the oil and gas industry is concerned?
 
Join AJ Abdallat, CEO at Beyond Limits, Morag Watson, VP & Chief Digital Innovation Officer at bp, and Bill Scudder, SVP AIoT General Manager at AspenTechnology, for this Agora Studio panel at CERAWeek 2021.
 
 
 
 
For nearly forty years, CERAWeek has been providing an integrated framework for understanding what’s ahead for global energy markets, geopolitics, and technology. Participants include senior executives, government officials, thought leaders, academics, technology innovators, and financial leaders.​ 
 
 
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW OUR AI IS IMPACTING THE ENERGY SECTOR HERE.
 
 
 
 
18 February 2021
Los Angeles, CA

 

Beyond Limits joins CERAWeek Virtual 2021, The New Map: Energy Climate, and Charting the Future, on March 1-5.
 
For nearly forty years, CERAWeek has been providing an integrated framework for understanding what’s ahead for global energy markets, geopolitics, and technology. Participants include senior executives, government officials, thought leaders, academics, technology innovators and financial leaders.​ 
 
Beyond Limits CEO, AJ Abdallat joins the panel, The Future of AI in the Oil & Gas Industry with Morag Watson, VP & Chief Digital Innovation Officer at bp, and Bill Scudder, SVP AIoT General Manager at AspenTechnology. The panel will be moderated by Camilo Rodriguez, Analytics & Data Science Lead at HIS Markit.
 
Panelists will discuss the oil and gas industry’s next steps for using AI to transform big data into strategic outcomes and how operations, market analysis, and business support teams within upstream, midstream, and downstream sectors can benefit from such advanced digital transformation. AJ recently spoke at Web Summit and the SPE EnGenious conference as well.
 
Beyond Limits CTO of Industrial AI, Shahram Farhadi will also be joining Marc Spieler, NVIDIA Global Energy Director for the Lyceum talk, High-performance AI in Energy: Today’s Impact & Tomorrow’s Outlook.
 
Shahram and Marc will explore why the current pace of AI innovation is accelerating in the energy sector and how this has jump-started a need for high-performance AI. During the talk, viewers will learn why high-performance computing resources are critical for new AI paradigms – including AI using GPUs, discussing how it all works using real-world examples. The talk will close with a dialogue about potential impacts on the industry, including decarbonization and company commitments to becoming net-zero by 2050.
 
You can read more about how Beyond Limits is expanding industrial AI in energy with Nvidia here.
 
Beyond Limits CPO, Yonatan Hagos will also join fellow thought-leaders at the CERAWeek Agora for his talk, Revolutionizing Human Decision with AI and Digitization. Yonatan will discuss why Cognitive AI is necessary to optimize human decision-making and how the energy industry can benefit, using real-world examples in upstream and downstream.
 
Beyond Limits Senior Manager of AI Solutions, Michael Krause is another expert joining fellow industry leaders at the CERAWeek Agora for his talk, The Innovator’s Playbook: From R&D to O&G. Michael will share what it takes to bring AI from the lab to deployment at operational scales in the field, and why energy companies can expect to see AI projects accelerate in the coming years. Not long ago, Michael also spoke at the Go Digital Energy event and was featured in a recent installation of Data Den.
 
 
 
 
 
21 January 2021
Los Angeles, CA

 

The WE3 summit connects global thought-leaders who are embracing change and defining the dent we should put in our water-energy future by focusing on the intersection of sustainable transformation, investment, innovative technology, and regulation for our economic recovery.
 
 
AJ Abdallat, Beyond Limits CEO, joined Deepak Garg, CEO of Smart Energy Water, for the panel: Accelerating Digital Transformation with Artificial Intelligence.
 
 
Check out the panel below to learn more about the way AI is being used in the water and energy industries.
 
 
 
 
 

Want to learn more about the impact of AI in Energy? Take a look at our AI Energy Solutions here.

 
12 January 2021
Los Angeles, CA
 
During a time of great uncertainty for many industries and, indeed, the world itself – Web Summit gathered founders and CEOs of technology companies and fast-growing startups, along with policymakers and heads of state, to ask a simple question: Where to next?
 
Beyond Limits CEO AJ Abdallat discussed The Past, Present, and Future of Cognitive AI during his recent Web Summit talk. Check out this video to learn the history of AI and what advancements we can expect to see in the coming years.
 
 
 
 

Want to learn more about Beyond Limits’ Cognitive AI technology? Take a look!

 
 
15 December 2020
Los Angeles, CA
Author: Jesus Bouzada, Beyond Limits Product Manager – Refinery

 

This panel recap and review was contributed by Jesus Bouzada, Beyond Limits Product Manager, Refinery, from his own expertise, perspective, and point-of-view.

 

Last September, Hydrocarbon Processing hosted the IRPC Americas conference. On the second day of the conference, there was a panel discussion on digitalization. The purpose of this review is to assess the state of digitalization in the energy industry, covering the panelists’ observations and my own views, as Beyond Limits’ Refinery Product Manager, on some of the topics. Throughout the review, you will learn how Beyond Limits can help you in your digitalization journey.

Lee Nichols, Hydrocarbon Processing Editor-in-Chief, facilitated the panel. Panelists included Ron Beck, Aspen Technology Market Strategy Director, Joe McMullen, AVEVA Value Chain Optimization Marketing, and Marty Gonzalez, bp Discipline Leader – Intelligent Operations. I have the pleasure of working with Marty on regular basis as part of the implementation of Beyond Limits technology in bp. I regard Marty as a true innovation leader in the energy industry. So, I am really pleased to write about this topic.

 

Why Digitalization

First and foremost, let us agree on what digitalization means in this context. Digitalization is a loaded word that has been used with different meanings. Gartner describes it well for the purpose of this panel: “Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities.”

During the panel, the impact that the current environment is having on the industry, with COVID-19 and its consequences on the economy, was discussed at different times. Joe also warned of other challenges the industry will undoubtedly face going forward including another pandemic, regulations, disruptive innovation, and renewable energies.

Joe quoted Leon Megginson, a 20th-century economist. Mr. Megginson wrote that “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable.” Panelists agreed that the ability to be agile will set apart the companies that survive.

In Joe’s opinion, improving collaboration leads to agility. He said that what’s important to a successful digital transformation is understanding where your silos are and where you can improve collaboration. I agree that collaboration is critical, and I would add transparency as another important factor. However, I believe that agile is a mindset (based on agile principles). It is a different way to do business, so organizations that want to become agile need to go through a culture shift.

Whether we want it or not, things are changing. The key to agility is to embrace change. This takes us back to the definition of digitalization: “… the use of digital technologies to change… “ Digitalization is not about technology, but about how technology enables change in the business. Digitalization is a transformational tool for agile organizations, especially during a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment like the one we live in today.

Tech is part of our everyday lives, and the new generations coming into the workforce have been raised surrounded by technologies. Embracing technology becomes not only a matter of running a more profitable business, but it becomes a matter of tapping into the talent pool of the new generations and, in essence, staying in business.

 

Challenges to Digitalization

In other disciplines such as software development, which I know very well, or even car manufacturing, embracing change is in their DNA.

As an example, Toyota paved the way for the car manufacturing industry with its Toyota Way mindset. Other car manufacturers followed suit and the Lean movement was born. Lean heavily influenced the Agile methodologies of today that are widely spread when it comes to software development.

Many other industries, including Oil and Gas, have tried to embrace the Lean way of thinking. However, the way of thinking “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is ingrained in more risk-averse industries like Oil and Gas. Nevertheless, things are changing. The recent crises, first the 2015 downturn, and now COVID-19, have served as a wake-up call. Crises can also be seen as opportunities.

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