Accelerating the Energy Transition with Technology & Innovation
We started the month celebrating what TechnologyCatalogue.com has achieved in the last three years since our launch. From a website where you can browse for technologies to a platform for innovation in support of the Energy Transition. We have deeply evolved, indeed.
TechnologyCatalogue.com was established in March 2018 with the purpose to bridge the gap between technology suppliers and end-users in the global energy industry, building on the experience of the founders with technology deployment over a long period of time in Shell.
We saw how our platform and activities have stimulated not just collaboration between energy operators and innovators, but also the implementation of innovative activities in companies that are now in the forefront of positive change in the industry. In short, we have become an agent of change that accelerates the energy transition with technology and innovation.
Today, let us walk you through this journey by interviewing one of our co-founders Erik Nijveld. Here, he shared a bit of his professional background and related this to the story of how TechnologyCatalogue.com has grown from a website of technologies into a platform of innovation supporting the Energy Transition.
Erik, can you briefly tell us your background ?
I was born and raised in the Netherlands. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Twente, and later on also received an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management.
After my Twente years, I worked at the French Ecole des Mines de Paris for a bit more than a year, followed by 2 years at Hoogovens Steel, which is now part of Tata Steel. I joined Shell in 1998, where I worked for almost 20 years, essentially always in roles related to technology deployment. In my last role I was Technology Deployment Manager, wherein I initiated and led Shell’s “Technology Replication Thrust for Production Excellence” --- considered one of the most successful technology deployment vehicles that the company has ever seen.
In my role, I was responsible for selecting the right external technologies and innovations (digital as well as non-digital), bringing them in, and getting them deployed and replicated in Shell assets and projects across the globe. Over the years, we got better and better at it as a company, including all change management aspects. Over a period of ~6 years, hundreds of technologies were deployed with very significant impact made for the business. Not only in terms of cost and production, but definitely also in terms of safety and environment. It was definitely not easy to get this going, especially not at the start.
What were the major challenges you noticed when selecting and deploying technologies for Shell that then encouraged you to build a platform to address them?
The number of technologies and innovations that are out there is pretty overwhelming. It is difficult to see the wood for the trees, and to find the right tech to address business needs. Exhibitions and conferences can help to an extent, but these can be pretty overwhelming events, and in today’s world it’s even impossible to participate in them in most countries as a result of COVID-19. Even when you do succeed in finding a technology you don’t know if you can trust the performance claims from the supplier.
I also noticed that for suppliers, it is often difficult to find the companies that need their solutions, and the specific individuals within those companies. As a result, end-user companies “don’t know what they don’t know”.
Search engines and LinkedIn offer some help, but only to an extent. It’s not easy to find specific technology via Google, you need to describe accurately what you are looking for. Otherwise, you end up with a large number of options with most of them being irrelevant to your line of business.
For all these reasons, we launched TechnologyCatalogue.com. If there would have been a platform like TechnologyCatalogue.com when I was leading technology deployment activities in Shell, it would have made my life a lot easier!
How did TechnologyCatalogue.com develop from a website back in 2018 to how it is now, a platform for innovation?
Our plan from day one has been to provide a one-stop shop for all available solutions that are relevant to the energy industry, combined with our expertise and background to get technology sustainably embedded into assets and projects of our customers.
When TechnologyCatalogue.com was launched in 2018, we started welcoming technologies on the website, and saw visitors from major energy companies from all over the globe. But we saw that there was a huge opportunity to do more than that. We introduced new features to technology pages, upgraded functionalities and made it more convenient for our platform users to find solutions. We also added technology experts in the formula and made our offering holistic. Companies can now find technologies they need and experts to assist them with deployment.
More recently, we also decided to be a source of information for the industry. We conducted webinars, wrote blogs and sought valuable insights from thought leaders and experts in the energy sector and related industries. There are more functionalities and resources coming up on the platform that we deemed to be of huge help to our community.
How does the platform specifically help the energy transition?
Technology users can find the right technology from behind their desk, whereby a selection can be made based on reviews from users and tech experts, and deployment references. With this platform, suppliers can find the right buyers at a cost far lower than having to go from one exhibition to the next. And the platform gives access to tech experts who can support suppliers as well as end-users to get the technology sustainably embedded. We earn our money by offering matchmaking services and data insights to end-users, suppliers and tech experts. Although this all sounds straightforward, there wasn’t such a platform when we launched this in 2018.
The platform contains technologies that make impact during the full life cycle. Hence the platform contains for example technologies that can optimize well construction, but also for example, technologies to improve maintenance and logistics, as well as other tech to reduce unit cost. We can then support end-users with making the right selection of technologies, with highest impact and ‘do-ability’. It is good to note that very often technologies can make an impact on multiple dimensions: not only improving the uptime of the facility and reduce cost, but improving environmental and safety performance at the same time.
Just to give an example. One of the tech of the platform is JESI - Remote Worker Safety Management Enterprise Software. When going to the page, the relative business impact is shown. This software solution helps to manage safety risks and processes. With the data being generated, the movement of staff can be optimized, this way reducing the time people are on the road such that people’s time can be used more effectively.
Or just to highlight another one: WES Wind Energy Technology. WES wind turbine suffers less wear and enjoys a longer life expectancy in comparison with other turbines. Again, when going to the page, it shows the impact on CO2 reduction, but also the positive impact on safety, cost and production.
The platform contains many technologies from Oil & Gas, can these also contribute to the Energy Transition?
They certainly can. Technology & Innovation play a key role in reducing the CO2 footprint of the Oil & Gas industry. At the same time, Oil & Gas technologies can also support Renewables.
For example, for geothermal projects, you need to drill wells, and need to have a solid understanding of the subsurface, as in Oil & Gas projects. We are thereby stimulating suppliers to make it visible how their technology can contribute to other sectors, and we will continue to hold up the mirror.
And just to give another example: for running a hydrogen plant, you need to carry out maintenance. Many technologies that help to improve maintenance activities for refineries are also applicable for optimizing maintenance activities of hydrogen facilities, such as inspection technologies.
Also, technologies from completely other industries can support the Energy Transition. For example, robotics is being looked at everywhere, and we can learn from others. A lot is happening when it comes to robotics in India, and for that reason we will launch the India Technology Platform in Q2 2021 to leverage the robotics capability of the country.
Such India Technology Platform as well as other partner platforms are part of the TechnologyCatalogue.com structure and make use of the same underlying database and ‘engine’. The moment a technology is on the India Platform, it can also be made visible on other platforms, hence increasing the visibility and giving end-users access to the best technologies.
With your platform growing so rapidly, how do you help end-users with selecting the best technology?
Our diverse team, both internal and external partners, is consistently parsing through thousands of technologies in the market. These are technologies developed by innovators from all over the world, including those directly targeting different but relevant industries. We register them on the platform and make them visible to end-users who are potentially looking for them or are needing them.
Next to continuously expanding this global platform, we also now offer end-user companies to have their own technology platform that is fully customised to their needs and preferences. We filter the technologies on the platform to only include those that are relevant to the specific needs of the company. This significantly reduces the amount of time and money required to identify and select the best technologies for your company.
The platform also allows end-users to select technologies using external reviews and references as screening factors. All on the basis that if one or more companies have used a technology, and multiple people have indicated that they have good experience with the technology, it may also be a suitable technology for the company.
Hence, we offer end-users a comprehensive overview of available technologies in the market and also provide the option to have this selection trimmed down to what are only relevant to them.