Digitalization/IIoT

Saudi Aramco Explains Its Digital Transformation

Company’s approach to digital innovation enables it to identify, develop and implement new strategic technologies.

By Janice Abel, Principal Consultant, ARC Advisory Group

Saudi Aramco, an energy and chemicals producers, attributes its success in part to the company’s approach to digital innovation, which enables it to identify, develop and implement new strategic technologies.

At the recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida, Eyad A. Buhulaiga, senior projects manager at Saudi Aramco, spoke about the company’s first digital plant integration of its new integrated manufacturing operations management system (imoms) technology at the company’s Jazan Refinery Complex (JRC) in Saudi Arabia. According to Buhulaiga, the new imoms technology was designed to help solve the information and automation gaps typically encountered in today’s manufacturing operations management (MOM) technologies. The goal is to create a largely off-the-shelf solution that would require minimal customization.

The imoms project was a collaborative effort between the Saudi Aramco project management team; the Jazan complex proponent; subject matter experts 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.

Core Functional Areas

Aramco initially developed imoms to support the business processes management at the Jazan Refinery Complex, including the marine terminal and power plant. 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.

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Four Pillars of Operational Excellence

As Buhulaiga explains, imoms is designed to enhance operational excellence by providing advanced tools that will help improve profitability, efficiency, reliability and — most importantly — health, safety and environment; the “four pillars” of operational excellence.

Cloud-based Digital Technology and Services

While all imoms technologies developed for the Jazan project are cloud-based, the technology can also be made available on-premise or in private or public cloud infrastructures. The solution is configured on top of commercial off-the-shelf commercial technologies.

Users can tailor this largely off-the-shelf technology to their business process using the Saudi Aramco-developed templates. These easily modified templates or apps help streamline the process of identifying requirements for standard business processes for each application. “A typical MES/MOM implementation can take several years to work through the different project phases, such as FEED, detailed design, implementation and testing and deployment. imoms-as-a-service can reduce the development effort and time to production significantly by tapping into the pre-engineered solutions,” says Buhulaiga.

The Jazan Refinery Complex Project Benchmark

The Jazan Refinery Complex project technology consists of 20 integrated and interoperable solutions that are digitally transforming the plant’s operation and helping enable operational excellence. The project includes integrating 26 different applications residing on more than 100 servers with over 1,000 users.

By leveraging existing corporate applications, including Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) and Engineering Data Management (EDM), as well as the data acquisition and historian system and data from the laboratory information management system, and other technologies, imoms integrates with core digital operational technologies, such as operation monitoring, operation instruction, operation logbook, operation advisory and blending and movement automation systems. These applications are then complemented with advanced digital engineering technologies, such as production planning, production scheduling, mass and energy balance, energy performance management, key performance management, online fault monitoring, predictive analytics, lifecycle reliability and integrity, maintenance, turnaround and inspection, process safety and operations risk management and environmental management systems.

End-To-End Business Process Management

The imoms technology is also helping to manage the end-to-end business process of the JRC — from order inception to planning and scheduling to the time it ships the product from the terminal. The process starts with receiving the order from OSPAS, followed by allocating the needed resources, planning, scheduling the execution of the order, automatically dispatching the order to the plant and communicating the transaction 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 order has been produced in the most effective and economical way, meeting the product specification without quality giveaway. All data are accessed via three standard platforms (role-based dashboard, 3D Digital Twin, and Digital Operational Mobility). imoms helps ensure continuous improvements in plant reliability and that the plant is operated within the optimal process safety and environmental limits.

IMOM Applications Beyond Saudi Aramco

According to the company, in addition to rolling out the imoms technology across its own operations and to Saudi Aramco’s partners, the tool could be easily expanded and configured to support other companies’ operations. This includes companies in other industries. The operations and manufacturing intelligence technology includes a role-based graphical user interface that provides manufacturing intelligence dashboards and KPIs to enable other companies to implement the new software.


Janice Abel has done extensive research and consulting on automation technologies spanning the entire spectrum of process and manufacturing industries. Her experience includes more than 25 years of helping both suppliers and end user clients develop strategic plans to market, adopt, and use technologies.