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The future of quality management in the energy sector

4 things that will impact the role of QA/QC

Published on Wednesday February 15, 2023 by Anna Andreatti

Quality management of steel in the oil and gas is on the verge of a big change. New technologies automates a lot of the work previously done by experts. On the other hand the operator’s ambitions on digital twins to enable things like turn around simulations require quality management to become more data management. Data capture, quality management and supply chain will become more closely linked together.

The history of quality management in oil and gas

Quality management for steel in the oil and gas industry has a long history, dating back to the early days of the industry. The use of steel in oil and gas operations, such as in drilling equipment and pipelines, has always been a critical aspect of the industry, and ensuring the quality of steel has always been a top priority.

One of the earliest examples of quality management in the steel industry can be traced back to the 19th century, when the Bessemer process was invented. This process revolutionized the steel industry by allowing for the mass production of high-quality steel, which was used extensively in the oil and gas industry. As the industry continued to grow and evolve, so too did the standards and regulations governing the quality of steel used in oil and gas operations. In the early 20th century, organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) were established to develop and maintain standards for the quality of steel used in the industry.

Today, quality management for steel in the oil and gas industry is governed by a combination of industry standards and regulations, as well as internal quality control systems implemented by individual companies. This ensures that the steel used in the industry is of the highest quality and meets the demands of the oil and gas industry. Moreover, while in the past, steel was only being used for oil and gas, now hydrogen is also playing a role and steel needs to meet the right standards that allow this to flow through pipelines. Today’s quality control standards work with ranges and margins within which the data of the manufactured products needs to fall for it to be approved for use. This has worked great in a world that is relatively static. The product improves, but doesn’t radically change and repurpose is selden required.

This is why the future and digitization will bring more developments. While today it is important to ensure that the data falls into specified ranges, having exact data will be radically more important. Exact data is needed in order to train models for predicting when maintenance is needed, viewing turnaround simulations, and calculating unforeseen future uses of the steel. Consequently, also the role of QA/QC will be affected.

But to have a better idea of the future, below we’ll look at 4 main things that will impact quality management in the next few years.

The future of quality management

  • Technological advances. One of the biggest changes that is likely to affect the QA/QC landscape in the oil and gas sector is the increasing use of technology. With the advent of automation and artificial intelligence, many tasks that were previously performed manually are now being handled by machines. This is likely to lead to a shift in the roles and responsibilities of QA/QC professionals, as they will need to be knowledgeable about the latest technologies and be able to use them effectively to ensure the quality of oil and gas products. Moreover, an increased acceptance and implementation of cloud computing will be able to eliminate the silo effect and better connect companies. Lastly, blockchain technology will be a central player in the industry, by ensuring transparency and traceability of the data in every moment. This ensures that data is of high quality as it is only signed off by the designated person and cannot be tampered with.
  • Changing regulations. Another major factor that will shape the future of QA/QC in the oil and gas sector is the changing regulatory environment. As governments around the world continue to tighten regulations on the industry, QA/QC professionals will need to be up-to-date on the latest laws and standards and be able to comply with them. This may require QA/QC professionals to undergo additional training and education to stay current with the latest regulations. In addition, more and more regulations and measurements on carbon usage will be present with the aim of limiting it. This means that ​​part of the QA/QC tasks will be looking at the carbon usage and release and reducing it as much as possible.
  • Shifts in consumer demand. A third important element to consider in the future is the shifting of consumers’ demand from oil and gas towards hydrogen and other sustainable resources (solar, wind etc…). As explained above, this will require quality management to take action and start monitoring the carbon footprint of companies and find alternative solutions to cut down the carbon release.
  • Integration of quality and data management. Lastly, a major change will be the integration of quality and data management as one interconnected process. As mentioned previously having exact data will be more important than complying with the quality ranges. This is why, in the future the role of QA/QC will not only include material quality management, but also data management in order to achieve not only material quality but also data quality.  Indeed, right now for QA/QC it is important to know whether the data complies to the specifications, however, to feed predictive models it is necessary to sign off on exact data. This will allow companies to have automated checks, which speed up the approval of data and guarantee better data quality.

The role of SteelTrace

As SteelTrace has recognized these future developments in quality management, what the platform offers is an integrated workflow for QA/QC and data management.  SteelTrace connects all parties in the supply chain through blockchain technology, making sure data is structured and standardized and thus allowing for automated verification. But if you want to know more specifically how this can be applied to your company, you can request a product demo.