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Business Innovation Award

The ninth annual Oil & Gas UK Awards, sponsored by Shell U.K. Limited, will take place at Aberdeen’s Exhibition and Conference Centre on the evening of Thursday 5 November and will celebrate the most outstanding companies and inspirational people working in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Award for Business Innovation,  recognises a company which has enabled improved performance through innovation. (Read More)

QUESTION 1. Describe your organisation’s innovative approach to delivering improved operational efficiency; include evidence of measurable efficiency gains, streamlining of effort and cost savings, sustainability, enhanced competitive position and wider industry benefit: 

Archer UK is a global oilfield service company which holds drilling operations and maintenance contracts across 18 assets in the UKCS and employs up to 1200 personnel.

In common with many organisations in Oil & Gas, it encountered challenges trying to collate data and maintain real-time up to date records on a company-wide basis about personnel; information essential in support of project management and tendering for business.

Relevant information was spread across every asset in spreadsheets or corporate documents which could only be accessed by a handful of people.  Transfer and coordination of information by email and hard copy was cumbersome, time-consuming and slow.

Archer identified improving its data control as a business priority and to address this began working in collaboration with Solutions, an Aberdeen IT services specialist, to implement an innovative online Advanced Competency Assessment and Verification system based on an Oil & Gas crew, logistics, certification and competency platform.

The benefits have been immense. Implementing the system transformed overnight the way the Archer operates and as a result it now saves an average of 6-8 weeks over its previous reporting processes.

Onboard is in effect a “one-stop-shop” data control system which enables Archer to maintain a safe, efficient, effective workforce throughout normal operations, transition periods and crew migrations. It tracks certification, competence levels and crew rotations enabling Archer to monitor, track and transfer competence of employees irrespective of their discipline, experience or equipment location, across any of the 18 assets they work on.

Multi-dimensional competency of this type is still relatively immature in the North Sea and can be seen by many as a major overhead or obstacle to business. Archer took a more innovative, forward-looking approach and views it as a key competitive differentiator that allows them to retain and expand their contract base, whilst ensuring the investment in their people keeps them safe and engaged.

For example, prior to Onboard, Competence Assessments undertaken offshore were recorded on paper and transported to client facilities onshore before being transferred to Archer for verification and for input into the offshore personnel records. Assessment issues were not be picked up quickly, documents could be mislaid and the crews’ personal objectives and Archer’s client reporting KPI’s were not current, even though they had been completed offshore weeks previously.

With Onboard, offshore Assessors update information directly into the online system where it can be accessed, verified and recorded straight away rather than in the 6-8 weeks it took under the previous procedure.

This streamlining has delivered significant operational efficiency gains but has also been motivational for Archer’s employees as the results of their hard work are visible much earlier.

While this particular programme has been developed through the collaboration of Archer and Solutions, there are considerable wider industry benefits. Onboard is a commercially available SaaS (Software as a Service) platform developed through Solutions’ expertise and understanding of the O&G sector. The accurate recording of competency and its key role in safety and risk management has immense value for the sector.

QUESTION 2. Why your company deserves to win this award, how do you differentiate yourself from other nominees, what does your product/scheme provide to the industry?

 The initiative to invest in system improvements which develop and motivate employees, at a time when there are pressures within the industry to reduce cost, demonstrates an understanding and commitment by Archer that introduces innovation which has long term benefits to the wider Oil & Gas sector. Simultaneously it engages with our crews to give them confidence that their skills are valued and an important element in the future of the industry.

The visibility we now have allows us to make accurate, informed operational decisions around crew availability, cover and role deployments. We can be confident that our people are safe and competent in their discipline and crew with the equipment at their location.

Clients state they are impressed that the Onboard system delivers improved processes and visibility helping them support their offshore operations and achieve their objectives to monitor and verify their contractor competence. Audit feedback has invariably been positive and noted that the software’s integration of crew logistics management, certification and competency delivered significant efficiency improvements when performing tasks that support platform drilling operations.

We had literally dozens of Excel spreadsheets and labour intensive manual reporting prior to the implementation of Onboard. Customisable reporting has allowed Rig Managers, Operations and Training teams to create their own reports to support their operations.

Processes have become greener and more sustainable as the tonnes of paper-based competence assessments no longer have to be transferred from offshore or take up costly office space when completed and filed because they are now scanned into the Onboard system on the installation.

Workforce engagement in the development of this software program has been crucial to the success of the project. Employees provided scenario-based constructive feedback to the developers on how to improve the system in line with Archer process requirements.  The user feedback is vital in supporting the developers understand the why’s and the how’s.

This uniquely ‘fit for purpose’ Oil & Gas industry hub has been developed in Aberdeen and is now in use around the world by a large number of clients.  The system and its consequent innovations are extremely sustainable as energy companies throughout the supply chain can buy into the same enterprise class system for a fraction of the risk and cost of building it themselves.

So radical has this innovative approach and collaboration been that Aberdeen University Business School has chosen to study it and are currently writing a white paper for future teaching use. An interim mini case study is included in our supplementary documents.

We believe Archer’s pioneering collaboration with Solutions in developing the Onboard system will provide long term industry cost efficiencies and benefit and is worthy of winning the Business Innovation award.

We believe this initiative sets Archer apart from our competitors and other nominees because the investment was not for profit nor was it considered by Archer to be a marketable product but an initiative which creates a safer and more motivated workforce, which makes us a more cost effective and efficient drilling contractor.