Many of the problems that Dr. Alan Lumsden deals with on a daily basis have been solved, but the solutions aren’t available in the medical industry’s toolbox.
Finding technology solutions in other industry’s toolboxes was behind the launch in 2007 of the Pumps and Pipes Consortium, through which members of the oil and gas and medical industries sought to brainstorm ideas on how technologies from each industry could be applied to problems in the other. Since its founding, National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) has joined in that collaboration.
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Many of the analytics tools used in the medical industry are also used in the oil and gas industry, said Lumsden, professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery with Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, at the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. For example, directional drilling in oil and gas is similar to navigating a catheter in the medical industry, said Lumdsen. A number of synergies also exist between deepsea drilling and heart surgery, as well as sensor technology, which transmits data from downhole to the surface, and from within a human heart to the cloud to a doctor’s office.
Anatomy, physiology, flow assurance for blood and oil, metallurgy fatigue for pipelines and stents, imaging ultrasound, navigation, robotics and molecular science/nanotechnology are among the areas where the oil and gas medical industries are collaborating on how technology from each industry can be applied to the other.
The group also is looking at whether hydraulic fracturing can be applied to muscle to encourage new blood vessel growth. This idea is in its infancy, Lumsden told conference attendees.
“I believe that many of the problems that I face every day have been solved,” said Lumsden. The problem is that on a daily basis, Lumsden speaks with other doctors, who all have the same educational and knowledge background as he does and approach to solving problems.
Technological innovation happens through the cognitive ability of associating seemingly unrelated ideas together and putting things together in unrelated ways to produce something novel and original, said Rustom K. Mody, vice president of engineer enterprise technology with Baker Hughes International, during the presentation, Pumps and Pipes Innovation in the Oilfield and Cardiovascular Medicine.
Achieving innovation requires knowledge, which is everywhere. To acquire this knowledge, the oil and gas industry needs to look for knowledge outside of the departments, disciplines, industries, laboratories, and geographies associated with the oil and gas industry, Mody said.
Unlocking market potential, reducing the risk vector and increasing efficiency are the three principles behind a new technology project, said Mody, and technology research managers need to be aware of several key things as they seek to develop new technology.
This includes the idea that “build it and they will come” does not work. When launching a new technology, companies needs to understand the fundamentals of the market as they invent, adapt, develop and deliver technology.
Serendipity is a myth, said Mody. What is really needed is something based on sound fundamentals.
Associate with people who do great things, said Mody. This includes the collaboration not only of the oil and gas industry with the medical industry, but oil and gas’ collaboration with the aerospace industry as well. Mody sums it up as Docs, Rocks and Docks.
While space and oil and gas would appear to have little in common, the industries’ exploration of oil and gas in deepwater environments and space both require a certain mindset of looking at technology and pushing it to the frontiers, Mody explained.
The oil and gas industry will need to access technology from other industries to enable it to meet the tremendous challenge of providing energy for 7.2 billion people worldwide in a time of low oil prices. This is where innovation comes into the picture, said Mody.
“Every time we recover from a downturn we’re stronger,” Mody told conference attendees.
When oil prices are up, nobody is willing to try new things; the picture changes when oil prices are down. Benchmarking familiar technology by analogy can drive creativity in applying technology from one industry to another. Some examples include swellable polymers, which has applications for the medical and oil and gas industries; dental and pipeline biofilms; multilaterial junctions; inspection; directional drilling; and flow assurance.
Applying technologies from other industries such as aerospace to oil and gas not only is being done to enhance efficiency and productivity, but safety as well. To address these areas, oil and gas companies are looking at technologies from aerospace such as remote sensing, entry descent and landing, advanced propulsion, advanced life support, in-situ resources, automation/intelligence, computational/Big Data and operational safety.
“The more we can automate, the less we depend on human for safety,” Mody noted.
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