Technology replication is a practice that has long been exercised and yielded significant positive results in the energy industry. Technologies deployed successfully in one asset/facility are naturally convenient but good options for deployment in another similar asset/facility, not just within the organisation but also outside the company.
However, replication of technologies within a global organisation with multiple assets/facilities in different countries is not always easy. Assets in different countries are oftentimes operating independently. And without an organised technology replication program, it will be a challenge to share information or build trust on a technology used elsewhere, even with success stories.
For this insights blog, we invited Loek Vreenegoor to share his experience on replicating valuable technologies at Shell. Loek has over three decades of experience at Shell, holding technical and leadership positions in-charge of lab experimentation, innovation and R&D, replication and commercialisation of technologies, among others.
Currently, he is the Engineering Manager of the Central Upstream Asset Support Team of Shell, providing cross-discipline support to upstream assets globally, including technology deployment and R&D support. Loek holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics Faculty from Delft University of Technology.
Read his insights below.
1. What do you think are the reasons replicating technologies worked in the energy industry and perhaps in other industries?
For technologies to get replicated, it must not only be clever but it has to address a specific need of the business. As such, engineers and other technical experts focused on developing the technology must be linked to the commercial unit of the company early on in the development funnel to ensure that the technology is really wanted by the business.
Another reason technologies are also replicated in an industry, including the energy industry, is that marketing or commercial people are involved. They are behind the multipliers of technology. They look at technologies through the eyes of the end-user, allowing them to convince other assets or business/operating units within the company that the technology is needed. Technology replication is partly an influencing game, and engineers are not trained for that.
Lastly, licensing keeps the technology alive. After a full success in deployment in a business unit, licensing allows other companies to benefit from it. This is a strategic move not only for technology replication but also for additional revenues that can be utilised for further R&D projects.
Licensing is becoming the norm in technology and innovation for huge companies. If we are in need of a certain technology, we look where we can buy it. If we can't buy it, we co-develop. And only in strategic cases will we develop the technology ourselves.
2. What do you see as major barriers for the rapid deployment and replication of technologies? And how to address them?
One great barrier is when a company expects a technology expert or an inventor to do everything, from development to commercialisation. They are not sellers or marketers who can easily convince other business units to adopt their technology. They need support from commercial or business development people to replicate technologies to other assets or business units.
Second barrier is when a technology is introduced to an asset and deployed successfully, the company thinks that’s the end of it. Technology replication thrust steps out quickly and lets the tech experts push it to other units. And again, they are not specialised on this.
And third, some companies think that a mature technology no longer needs further R&D as it has successfully been deployed already. And if you act like that with respect to a technology, it is like declaring an early death to it. So, one way to secure the future of the technology even outside of the company who developed it is, again, by licensing it to a company that wants to sell it and develop it further.
3. In times where companies are faced with overwhelming choices of technologies, how would you say can a technology platform like TechnologyCatalogue.com and IPLOCA Members Technology Platform help to accelerate selection and deployment of technological innovations?
In today’s competitive business environment, it is highly critical to have a repository of solutions where you can quickly find technologies to address your needs. It is important that you can compare, see pros and cons, read about successful deployments at various territories and industries, and tap in references from independent experts. This is something you can do on your own but takes a lot of time and effort. So, if you can outsource it or have access to a platform that does it, your problem is solved right away.
With technologies popping out here and there every day, it is nice to bounce ideas with other members of the community. This way you get practical inputs from people in the same industry. And this is important in a world dominated by information and data, you cannot track it all on your own.
As such, a platform like TechnologyCatalogue.com or the IPLOCA Members Technology Platform would be of great help as you have people in the industry sharing reviews of technologies which they either have used in their own businesses or are knowledgeable about. But, the challenge is to maintain a vibrant community where people are participating and willing to share thoughts, ideas and experiences.
Are you interested to learn more about the IPLOCA Members Technology Platform? Visit https://iploca.technologycatalogue.com/ and create a free account to get started!
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