Energy operations companies Total, based in Paris, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), based in Maharashtra, have recently created a business merger to establish a centre for digital innovation for the exploration of technology, risk aversion and strategic solution planning.

Bernard Pinatel, President of Refining and Chemicals at Total, mentioned that ‘with the digital innovation centre, we are positioning ourselves as a pioneer working to develop a smart, connected refinery that will allow us to improve our industrial competitiveness. We want to invent the Refinery 4.0.’

India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with a booming market for technology. This creates the perfect environment for industry growth and advancement.

TCS and Total's centre for innovation will initially focus on existing processes within refineries, lowering maintenance costs through real-time data analytics and creating a safe work environment with automated inspections. It will also address responsiveness to hazards and threats for highly dangerous environments through artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and drones.

The aim of the project is to move towards ‘virtual factories’. With 3D imaging being at the forefront of an industry 4.0, historical operations and processes can be used to recreate digital representations of these eventualities. Pinatel remarks that ‘this data improves efficiency from the plant design stage to decommissioning,’ which creates the ability to control processes remotely with mobile technology. 

Mergers such as this, along with process improvement and technological enhancement are paving the way forward for improved overall industrial efficiency. We have come a long way from the era of coal-powered, labour-intensive factories, moving ever closer toward a fully automated production.