Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Accenture and AT&T lay IoT refinery foundations

Steve Rogerson
July 15, 2020

Accenture and AT&T are helping US energy company Phillips 66 develop a private cellular network that will lay the foundation for future 5G use cases, including support for industrial IoT and low latency applications.
Phillips 66 invited Accenture to address cellular performance gaps with its existing public cellular network near one of its refineries in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.
The private cellular network – a local cellular network that includes cell sites and core network servers that support the connectivity of an organisation’s requirements – was selected as a proof of concept to demonstrate the ability to handle increased mobile connectivity needs from the Phillips 66 digital transformation initiatives.
The proof of concept private network was designed from the ground up to address Phillips 66’s industrial digital requirements. AT&T was selected as the telecommunications provider to develop the necessary engineering for a dedicated cellular network, using multi-access edge compute across licensed spectrum.
“Mobile applications are central to our day-to-day business activities,” said Zhanna Golodryga, senior vice president at Phillips 66. “We use them for safety inspection forms for oil distillation units, capacity tracking and more, so connectivity is critical to keeping our operations running. The results of the proof of concept are promising. This private cellular network can address existing coverage gaps today and potentially lays the foundation for pervasive connectivity to enable upcoming use cases based on IIoT and 5G.”
During the proof of concept, teams were able to bring dedicated private cellular infrastructure onsite and record speed improvements at the refinery. In addition, the cellular reference signals showed the potential for improvement in signal strength at selected process units. At Phillips 66, technical hurdles continue to be worked out and sustainable engineering is being developed before the cellular option can be made available for scale deployments while meeting the operational requirements at the refineries.
"Reliable connectivity is accelerating business transformation and enabling companies to innovate faster than ever before,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president at AT&T. “Our multi-access edge compute will help give Phillips 66 the control, performance and security they need from their private network today, while also giving them the flexibility to expand to their other locations in the future.”
Accenture is professional services company providing services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of these services. With 513,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture says it brings continuous innovation to help clients improve their performance and create lasting value across their enterprises.
“The proof of concept of this private network will enable Phillips 66 to selectively deploy connectivity and enable future digital opportunities across the refineries,” said Mary Beth Gracy, Accenture’s client account lead for Phillips 66. “We will also work with Phillips 66 to bring ecosystem partners to their private cellular network to give a complete end-to-end view of what is happening across the refineries and its supply chain, so that they can continue to innovate.”