Today, we’re increasingly harnessing digital technology capabilities to help improve the safety, productivity, reliability and environmental performance of our operations.
Since 2017, we have been piloting robotic process automation in our corporate functions to:
- reduce repetitive manual tasks
- improve the quality of our data
- free up valuable human capital for higher-value, more meaningful work
The next evolution of this work is to look at where it might apply in other areas of the business, including in some of our more repetitive, manual environmental, health and safety processes.
Opportunities to reduce safety risks are always a priority, and remote sensing technologies are providing another solution that is quick, safe and cost-efficient.
Drones are in use in our operations to assist with equipment inspection and conduct earthworks surveying; other uses are currently being evaluated.
Suncor is also investigating the use of advanced analytics to improve personal and process safety as well as environmental performance. Representing a broad range of solutions, advanced analytics allow for a sophisticated mining of data that produces deeper insights into patterns and trends across our assets and workforce. As a result, we can make faster, more proactive decisions and system changes that can prevent accidents or incidents. This increased ability to make evidence-based predictions is also expected to improve reliability, reduce maintenance costs and optimize facility throughput.
Digital solutions are also relevant at a personal level. Wireless employee badges were tested during planned maintenance activities in one of Suncor’s operating facilities in 2015 and are now being introduced at other Suncor sites as a component of personal safety gear. The badges transmit the employee’s location and have a panic button that can be used in an emergency. Aggregated data from the badges helps us understand workforce patterns and remediate possible areas of concern.
Employee and contractor personal protective gear at select upgrading sites have been tailored to include sophisticated gas detection monitors. The monitors can detect hazardous levels of certain gases or solvent vapours. They also include tracking devices to assist in providing faster emergency response.
We’ve also started connecting frontline staff to information; for example, providing tablets to maintenance and operations workers so they can create and access information in the field, eliminating the need to travel back and forth to a central location and enabling better, and immediate, data-based decisions that improve our operations.
A more digital environment means higher quality and faster decisions, and increased transparency, collaboration and efficiency. Digital solutions can also reduce costs, and many can target safety, productivity, reliability and environmental benefits that can now be expanded across the organization.