Rethink 2021: Shell utilizes AI to power the future


When it comes to making a digital transition and realizing ambitious business outcomes, Shell believes that technology might be the least important element.

During his session at Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit, Peter Westerink, General Manager of Digitalization Downstream Manufacturing at Shell, said that the energy company believes transformation is driven 60% by data, 30% by people, and 10% by technology.

Shell has significantly increased its investment in digital adoption, including growth to 1.3 trillion rows of sensor data in its data link, significant growth in its data-focused workforce, a tenfold increase in the use of virtual rooms powered by AR, and the use of AI to monitor more than 6,000 pieces of equipment.

Digitalization and AI are driving efficiencies in Shell’s business by maximizing availability for equipment (“find small and fix small”) and optimizing production in real time while decreasing CO2 emissions. Shell integrates data into a digital twin to enhance collaboration, automation, and remote operations that has gone live in one production facility with plans underway for five others.

Shell is also using these efforts to grow its clean energy capabilities. This includes AI for optimizing electric vehicle charging stations to save money for customers and monitor the power grid. Additionally, the company is using data-driven modeling and physics-based models for hydrogen production, storage, and transport, and using AI to assist in selecting wind turbine locations and optimize windfarm design and construction.

Westerink says Shell is thinking bigger to make energy smarter and sees a brighter future ahead. “We’re excited by the capabilities and communities we’re building, excited by the impact our projects are already having, and excited by the potential we haven’t yet realized.”

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