November 2019

Special Focus: Instrumentation and Automation

The future of digital transformation and smart manufacturing

In today’s challenging oil and gas operations, it is vital to have a robust operating system that supports each facility’s goal of operational excellence (OE). Digital transformation and smart manufacturing are being implemented by Saudi Aramco as a coined umbrella term: integrated manufacturing operations management system (imoms).

In today’s challenging oil and gas operations, it is vital to have a robust operating system that supports each facility’s goal of operational excellence (OE). Digital transformation and smart manufacturing are being implemented by Saudi Aramco as a coined umbrella term: integrated manufacturing operations management system (imoms). This integrated digital plant and smart manufacturing cloud-based infrastructure comprises a set of advanced and innovative decision support systems. Imoms supports the business processes of the Jazan refinery complex (JRC), the integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) facility and the marine terminal. The system is designed to achieve OE by providing advanced tools that will help improve profitability, efficiency, reliability and, most importantly, health, safety and the environment (HSE).

The JRC imoms project paves the way for refineries and operating facilities to leverage the imoms implementation. This platform introduces several digital transformation technologies for the first time in Saudi Aramco, including asset performance management, machinery diagnostics and prognostics, predictive maintenance, process safety, electronic work permit, operational risk management, field mobility and environmental management systems. Imoms is the first Saudi Aramco mobile-enabled digital plant platform that avails all operational data.

The digital refinery

The imoms project was a collaborative effort between the Saudi Aramco project management team; the Jazan complex proponents; subject matter experts (SMEs) from engineering services, information technology, oil supply planning and scheduling (OSPAS), and loss prevention; and corporate maintenance, which actively participated in the design and development of imoms with the system integrator.

The system improves product quality, minimizes giveaways, reduces hydrocarbon losses, maximizes gross profit margins and improves asset performance. It also helps minimize environmental impact, reduce hydrocarbon footprint and increase safety performance.

The right information is presented to the right user to make the right decision at the right time. This platform converts raw data into information by putting it into the right context and then channeling that into insight and knowledge by identifying areas of improvement, contributing root causes and suggesting corrective actions. The platform helps owner-operators move from being reactive and trying to resolve issues into being proactive by preventing the issues from happening. This platform will allow authorized users to access operational data anytime, anywhere.

Core functional areas

The solution provides tools and templates based on ISA 95 guidelines to enable implementation of standard business processes. The JRC benchmark was implemented to capture all the information in reusable templates.

JRC imoms was developed leveraging best practices to cover core manufacturing functional areas, shown in FIG. 1: regulatory compliance management, inventory operations management, production operations management, reliability and integrity management, and quality operations management. This platform integrates a plant’s process control systems with enterprise resources planning by automating the business process involved in the digital plant five functional areas.

Fig. 1. Enterprise control systems integration.
Fig. 1. Enterprise control systems integration.

It consists of 20 innovative integrated solutions (FIG. 2) that will digitally transform the plant’s operation and enable OE, integrating more than 26 applications residing on more than 100 servers, and serving more than 1,000 users at the JRC.

Fig. 2. Core functionality of imoms.
Fig. 2. Core functionality of imoms.

By leveraging existing corporate applications, such as data acquisition and historian systems and laboratory information management systems, the imoms platform integrates with core digital operational technologies, including:

  • Operation monitoring, instruction, logbook and advisory
  • Blending and movement automation systems.

These applications are then complemented with advanced digital engineering technologies (FIG. 3), including:

  • Production planning, scheduling
  • Mass and energy balance
  • Energy performance management
  • Key performance management
  • Online fault monitoring
  • Predictive analytics
  • Lifecycle reliability and integrity
  • Maintenance, turnaround, inspection
  • Process safety and operations risk management
  • Environmental management system.
Fig. 3. imoms digital transformation footprint.
Fig. 3. imoms digital transformation footprint.

The platform helps in managing the end-to-end business processes of the JRC, from the moment the planning group receives the order from the OSPAS department to the moment products are shipped from the terminal. The process begins with receiving the order from the OSPAS group, followed by allocating the needed resources, planning, scheduling the execution of the order, dispatching the order automatically to the plant, and communicating the plan to concerned parties. After the plan is executed, imoms collects the data to track the performance of the executed orders and analyzes the performance to ensure that the order has been produced in the most effective and economical way, meeting product specifications without any giveaways. These data are accessed via three standard platforms (role-based dashboard, 3D digital twin and digital operational mobility). The platform ensures that the plant’s reliability continuously improves, and that the plant is operated within optimal process safety and environmental limits.

Cloud-based technology and service

While all imoms technologies developed for the Jazan project are cloud-based (on-premise), these technologies can also be made available for off-premise/hybrid cloud infrastructures. The solution is configured atop off-the-shelf commercial technologies and establishes an integrated digital transformation, cloud-based infrastructure. It consists of configuring off-the-shelf commercial products with no customization to ease the process of support and expansion for other facilities.

The JRC imoms was designed taking into consideration the industrial integration, security and governance guidelines following the service-oriented architecture (SOA) designing principle to provide “imoms-as-a-service.” It helps end users to identify, manage and govern the different users, systems, data and business processes involved within the imoms ecosystem.

Core functionalities provide the imoms manufacturing intelligence and advanced analytics infrastructure:

  • Data aggregation
    • Identify the data sources
  • Data normalization
    • Ensure that the data are reliable and trustworthy
    • Massage the data to fit the format and schema (source vs. destination format); this is done using cross-reference tables and SOA registry and repository
    • Ensure consistent use of units of measurements
    • Ensure consistent naming convention
  • Data contextualization
    • Implement master and manufacturing data management
    • Build plant reference models, templates and user profiles
    • Build alerting and notification templates
    • Use abstraction (aliases rather than physical tags)
    • Identify the users of the different data points (user, system, business process, etc.)
  • Data analysis
    • Build the data warehouses, data marts and data cubes for the complex
    • Enable static, real-time and ad hoc reporting
    • Alert and notify
    • Enable drill-down, roll-up and benchmarking analysis
  • Data visualization
    • Standard user-driven, role-based dashboards
    • Show the right information to the right user at the right time for the right purpose to make informed and timely decisions
  • Data propagation
    • Show the performance from plant/floor asset to the admin area, and vice versa.

JRC imoms was designed with scalability and expandability in mind, and following:

  • Cloud computing concept
  • Standard, hardware, software, integration and visualization infrastructures
  • Hierarchal plant reference model
  • Major asset templates
  • Role-based visualization, alerting and notification templates
  • Consistent naming convention using aliases rather than physical tags.


The solution implementation endeavors to achieve automation that meets several key objectives (FIG. 4):

  1. Streamline operations by establishing a collaborative environment that provides operators, engineers, plant management and decision-makers with accurate information across all departments.
  2. Provide better visibility of plant processes and business aspects, essentially leading to optimized and safe asset utilization, and maximized production capacities and profitability.
  3. Improve agility by enabling timely responses to market changes, minimizing the loss of business and market opportunities to improve Jazan’s customer satisfaction.
  4. Measure actual production and performance, analyze performance and compare to planned and benchmark data with the ability
    to analyze causes of deviations.
  5. Establish the basis for a system that is user-friendly, flexible, easy to maintain and can grow along with Saudi Aramco’s present and future expansions.
  6. Maximize ROI in solutions by balancing the introduction of new technologies while embracing and integrating established solutions.
  7. Manage business process workflows to extend business process automation to more people, places and devices identified in functional design.
Fig. 4. System functionalities and benefits.
Fig. 4. System functionalities and benefits.


The design and implementation approach of Jazan imoms will help optimize imoms related to capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operating expenditures (OPEX) through standardization, leveraging synergies and support between existing and future projects. Leveraging imoms for other refineries and operating facilities will deploy standardized business processes and imoms architecture across other facilities; improve operating facilities’ gross margins, depending on the current baseline of each operating facility; reduce the overall IT CAPEX compared to a standalone implementation; standardize processes and plant IT/OT architecture in the cloud; implement a cross-plant governance; create one interchangeable team; and reduce runs and maintain costs over the software lifecycle. HP

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