Real progress happens when the advantages of a new technology become available to everybody – Henry Ford. Everybody knows the extent that digitalisation is changing how we live our day-to-day lives. It is easy to imagine how much it all affects a business and the people who work for it… The advantages of technological innovation have allowed Eni to achieve incredibly challenging things. We’re not talking about fantastical ideas that will only see the light of day sometime this century, but things that are already here. Well, in a virtual sense anyway. From the Po Valley, home to the HPC5 supercomputer, we’ve headed to the southern Italian region of Basilicata and the Val d’Agri Oil Centre (COVA), in Potenza. It might not be much to look at, but COVA is full of surprises. Few know, for example, that COVA is a fully digitalised plant, making it Eni’s first “Lighthouse”.
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The Val d’Agri Oil Centre (COVA) in Potenza.
A great digital library
What that actually means is that COVA is a kind of hub for digital solutions that are available to staff at the site. Imagine a library with thousands and thousands of books containing answers to the broadest range of questions: from improving safety and environmental protection to optimising production processes. By way of comparison, imagine what it would be like to see the entire Colosseum filled with reference books! All that knowledge, all that technology, is now ready and available to consult at the Viggiano plant, bypassing the need to head to Rome and spend weeks – or even months! – searching shelves for the right book. The name of this great digital library is IOC – Integrated Operation Center. It functions as a kind of control panel, using digital algorithms that let you perform various functions:
But why COVA?
Two main reasons: infrastructure and information. Val d’Agri has the largest onshore hydrocarbon deposit in mainland Europe. The site is therefore spread out and highly advanced, including a super-sophisticated sensor system. But the surprises do not end there, the plant has been built in such a way that it not only collects but also processes a huge amount of data. The advantages of this range from the ability to predict events to asset integrity monitoring. So for something simple, such as the maintenance of equipment and pipes, the availability of a large amount of data – checks, inspections, thickness measurements, etc. – makes it easier to carry out technical analysis to prevent corrosion. It’s almost like dealing with an ultra-advanced spacecraft – eat your heart out, Enterprise! And it has a superb captain in charge of steering it. Mining engineer Francesca Zarri has an incredible selection of technological solutions at her disposal, allowing her to look after the people who work with her just as carefully as she does at home with her two girls. It’s a story of changes and successful gambles that is set partially in Africa.
Francesca, pianificare per vocazione
The stakes are always high when you introduce something new. In this case it was about betting on people, their abilities, determination and desire to learn. That’s always been part of what Eni is all about. The plant’s operating staff has put time and effort into a process that first involved putting down on paper all the information they had held in their minds for years, and then having the ability to manage the plant in a different way. In short, Eni has once again chosen to believe in its own people: to believe that humans improve technology as much as technology improves people’s performance.
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