Data at the heart of digital transformation

10/09/2019 - Digital

The digital revolution is disrupting expertise, transforming usage and raising expectations. Vallourec is embracing data.

Think data

"Digitalizing is above all about opening up data," says Chief Digital Officer Barthélémy Longueville. At Vallourec, the days of silos and secret data are over. Including important figures, but also information on key accounts, worldwide drilling locations and partners, Vallourec's open data portal offers all employees a single interface that enables them to find useful (non-sensitive) data sets without having to search.

All employees share their data to feed the common database. Map visualizations enable the stacking of several data sets. Launching the open data portal in late 2018 marked a new era and a first step in data exploration. Since March 2019, part of the portal has been open to the public to promote data-driven tube-related products and services. 

Digitalizing is above all about opening up data.

Barthélémy Longueville Chief Digital Officer

Advancement through real-world examples

As part of creating the open data portal, Vallourec organized its very first datathon. Its objective was to transform tube data into added value for customers. A group of 23 participants from every business line and European organization tested a new agile approach – three days of immersion to process five real-world examples and gather helpful data to resolve them.

For many of these, it was the tubes' geometric data (diameter, thickness, etc.), which once assembled, offered real benefits to the customer. For example, the possibility to sort tubes by size or by performance, or the more complex task of placing the tube in the right place in the well. In total, datathon participants added 109 data sets to the Vallourec data lake and paved the way for a number of new services. 

3D, robots, AI: the impetus of 4.0

Industry 4.0 refers to the concept of connected, robotized and intelligent factories, where the borders between the physical and digital worlds are removed, creating an innovative and exciting work environment. A space where new‑generation robots collaborate with operators and with other robots. Where 3D printers take a few hours (rather than several weeks) to create a replacement part. Where employee performance is enhanced with the use of connected sensors or smart algorithms. And above all, where big data will revolutionize tube manufacture.

For instance, Vallourec USA can predict threading faults based on the measured characteristics of a tube as it exits heat treatment. At the Rath rolling mill, an advance prototype algorithm predicts, in real time, how thick the tube will be, and allows correction of the slightest deviation, also in real time. As a result, the scrap rate has fallen by almost 70% during the research project alone.

"The numerous simulations we can run are a rich source of performance improvements for our fabrication processes," says Marc Brémont, Group Industrial Masterplan Director. The 4.0 approach is boosting Vallourec's product quality and competitiveness while expanding its data platform, which is expected to yield many valuable applications. 

The numerous simulations we can run are a rich source of performance improvements for our fabrication processes.

Marc Bremont Group Industrial Masterplan Director

A journey into data

Knowing the DNA of every tube generates enhanced solutions that help optimize customer operations and reduce their costs. For example, Smartengo Best Fit finds the perfect fit between two tubes and the ideal degree of rotation for fast, fault-free welding of line pipes. On the rig, Smartengo Running Expert shows the length of the tube and column during descent, and after installation, a digital map of the finished assembly. This digital twin of the well will enable the tracking of each component and simulation of wear to ensure the lasting integrity of the well.

These innovative digital applications, combined with Vallourec's expert physical services, make up the new offer, which is boosting the digital transformation of the Group and its customers.