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Is the oil and gas industry ready for remote inspections?

The last two years have forced companies around the world to experiment with new ways of working flexibly. Is the oil and gas industry stepping up its digital transformation? Read this article to zoom into the topic and the outcomes of digitization. 

Some have successfully managed to reinvent themselves, others have reacted quickly and deployed digital solutions, while others have not managed to keep up with the new normal. 

In the article Bringing operators to the 21st century, we have explained how companies can nurture a more technologically oriented workforce. We've pointed out that in this new business landscape, company owners are looking for opportunities to improve plant reliability, safety, and operational profitability so which could imply digitizing their mobile workforce. 

According to a new study from IBM, 54% of employees around the world want to continue working from home once the covid-19 is no longer a threat. 

Watch-on demand the live webinar Remote Inspections during Covid-19 and beyond. 


Mercer has conducted a study that shows that before the pandemic, many executives were sure that only 45% of the workforce was adaptable to a remote way of working. Today, after almost a year since the pandemic was declared, 90% of employers declare that productivity has remained the same or even improved with employees working remotely. More than that, they are working on implementing flexible working at a greater scale. 


Enterprise mobility solutions rank as a top-three technology priority for energy companies. Given the ongoing developments in mobile technology, advances in cloud services, analytics, and mobile application security, energy companies can rely more than ever on technology to assist them in creating a remote workforce. 

banner with text and two oil and gas operators next to a oil terminal


More and more oil and gas companies would like to implement virtual assignments and unaccompanied long-term assignments. Backed up by the rise in popularity of smart glasses, this is no longer a nice to have but a must-have. At Smartflow we are constantly testing the use of smart glasses in inspections, monitoring operations, and remote support.

We plan that by the beginning of next year to be fully operational in making data capture and data visualization even smarter and easier than before. We are also working on embedding the voice commands and visualization feature into our builders, so business users can configure their use cases where they use smart glasses without a technical background.

Airshare has asked companies within the oil and gas industry if they currently have a formal policy to facilitate remote work, and 58% responded they had it even before Covid-19. 

The data collection company reported that 80% of the oil and gas professionals expect to see an increase in remote work requests within their company. 


Lower Costs

The price of crude oil has not yet recovered which is why many executives are actively searching for cost-saving solutions, including remote work. A remote workforce would save the industry an estimated 35-40% costs, according to Daniel Holmedal, a research analyst at Rystad Energy in Oslo, Norway, in his published study called “Remote Work Technology: The One Oil and Gas Services Segment That COVID-19 Has Benefited. 

Working with professionals from the oil and gas industry has taught us that not all tasks can be performed remotely. Before addressing this possibility, companies need to determine whether an employee is eligible for remote work or not. 

The current status of the oil and gas industry has encouraged businesses to turn towards digital technologies to realize cost-efficiencies. This current environment is the ideal testing ground for new technologies that nurture an environment of flexibility and agility. 


Remote work will not only positively impact the costs, but also the time and the productivity of workers. With sensors attached to oil pumps to indicate defects before they cause a shutdown and solutions that grant workers access to watch a well’s output from the comfort of their office or home, traveling costs and time will immensely be reduced. 

With more time on their hands, business leaders can focus on more areas of growth and find new solutions to maximize profit. 

Daniel Yerghin, vice chairman at IHS Markit is constantly speaking with oil and gas executives about the market’s conditions. Recently he has pointed out that monitoring the equipment, anticipating when equipment needs to be replaced, can be done with artificial intelligence and people working remotely. 

The industry will always need workers on-site for many different actions that can’t be done otherwise. Eric van Oort, professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas at Austin stated that manual labor will probably shift to maintenance rather than actually working on the rig floor and handling pipe. 


We are slowly but surely stepping into a safer, smarter future. With small steps in digitizing like switching from paper-based or spreadsheet-based inspections to cloud-based fully secured digital tools, usage of drones, smart glasses, and sensors, and investing in remote work, the oil and gas industry is visibility-ready for their transformation. 

At Smartflow we work on improving day-to-day operations, allowing for remote support, and leveraging the flexibility of workers. We aim for a future where there’s no difference between remote operations and on-site activity. 

With easy access to data that requires a simple click, Smartflow allows operators to access or transfer information to anyone within the organization. There is no room for errors since users get a notification alert if something is incorrect or missing. Moreover, organizations can track the completion time of the inspection, which will immediately improve workflow management. 

A remote workforce will help businesses accelerate the execution and the compliance of inspections, permits, and work orders, while maintaining the highest security and quality standards, at the same time reducing operations risks, and collecting real-time insight from the generated data.

Get in touch with us and one of our consultants will guide you through our solution.


  • Leo Brand

    CIO at Vopak
    With the rollout of the Smartflow platform at our terminals, we will be able to speed up, building our digital infrastructure to transform our frontline operations. Our people at the terminal will be able to work much more efficiently, and they will be supported in standardizing processes like ISGOTT and digital operator rounds.
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    Thomas Visser

    Management Trainee Vopak Europoort

    Usage of the Smartflow environment makes it much easier to standardize workflows and to reduce administrative time and errors. For example, when a tanker is discharging her cargo, only questions relevant for discharging activities are provided.
    Furthermore standard information and remarks that are applicable for Vopak Terminal Europoort such as emergency procedures, can be pre-filled thus reducing the amount of questions that need to be performed.
    Having all data in one digital environment makes it possible for each stakeholder to have easy access to all relevant and up-to-date ISGOTT documents. Zero paper waste as operators perform the process using a PC and ATEX certified tablet.

  • Mark van der Wolf

    Director Service & Projects at MOBA
    Smartflow offers MOBA many advantages in terms of efficiency and lead time reduction of the service order process. By implementing the user-friendly Smartflow, we expect a significant reduction in the manual administrative work of both the service engineers and the back office.
  • Mario Rovers

    Manager AMTeK at Aboma

    The Smartflow app helps inspectors collect and interpret data. We can easily analyze data and prepare for future events or to predict failure. Data can be analyzed immediately consequently improving the quality of inspections.

    What is holding your organization back? What is the element that is still missing from deciding to implement a connected worker solution?

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