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In episode 16, we sat down with Mika Tienhaara, the CEO at Rocsole – a leading Smart Process Imaging company focused within the Oil & Gas Industry. Mika is a prominent thought-leader within the IoT space, notable in scaling up businesses through his strong innovative drive.

With AI & deep learning prediction solutions Rocsole supports operational teams to reduce OPEX, to avoid unplanned shutdowns, and to monitor product quality to increase revenues.

We explore the journey of Oil & Gas digital transformation, addressing key topics:

 

      • Mika’s background in the Oil & Gas Industry.
      • Rocsole’s role in innovative solutions within the Oil & Gas Industry for customers.
      • The evolution of traditional models within the Oil and Gas Industry to IoT driven processes that have assisted in sustainability.
      • How Tomographic Technology is used to monitor conditions .
      • The key indicators that will thrive an IoT business .
      • The biggest challenges for AI and IoT in both the Oil & Gas Industry and for wider deployment.
      • What is in store for the future of the IoT Oil & Gas Industry.

     

Episode Transcript

Tom White:
Welcome to the IoT Podcast show. I’m your host, Tom white. Today we are joined by Mika Tienhaara. Mika is the CEO of Rocsole. Rocsole is a leading smart process imaging company focused within the oil and gas industry. Mika is also a prominent thought leader within the IoT space, notable in scaling up varying businesses. Mika, thank you so much for joining the show today.

Mika Tienhaara:
Thank you for having me, Tom. [crosstalk 00:00:46].

Tom White:
You’re very welcome. And my, what [inaudible 00:00:49] I say, what a wonderful background you have there, Mika, as well. It looks like you’re in some form of party.

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah. It’s a bit bubbly here. Yeah.

Tom White:
Yeah. Very good.

Mika Tienhaara:
Right?

How does Rocsole innovate the Oil & Gas Industry?

Tom White:
Yeah. Very good. Mika, so I know a little bit about yourself and obviously what your business does, but for the benefit of our listeners and our viewers, could you kick off by just explaining what your background is in IoT?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah. Thanks Tom. I started off many 100 years ago in automotive industry, with automation and robotics, et cetera. And let’s say that was more like the industry 3.0. And later on, I’d been working with, let’s say, model factories for industry 4.0, where you have the IoT, the connectivity, machines talking to each other. So that has kind of been my progress throughout the industry. But my babies, in terms of businesses, have come in the oil and gas industry. And there I’ve seen the lack of, let’s say, good relevant data. They’re behind on digitalization and automation. So what we are doing here is actually to bring IoT and connectivity from critical process sources, in order to enable a better data analytics, and production optimization solutions.

Tom White:
Okay. Thank you very much. Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting that you’ve come obviously from automotive into oil and gas, which is obviously quite synonymous with where you are in the world. Right? And there’s a lot of businesses obviously involved within that. Could you explain a little bit about how Rocsole operates, and the sort of innovative solutions that you’re providing for your customers?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah. So, let’s go into oil and gas and the upstream processing side of it, which is when you actually … from production, you get gas, the liquids of oil and water, as well as you can have solids production. So this is much upstream from before you get your petrol to your car. So what happens there is actually you want to separate unmixable liquids, where you have a blend of these liquids, with oil and water. As well as they form emulsions then. But then when you have the sensor units in-situ, meaning active sensing, typically, or many times, you get, from this emulsion or goo, in a sense, because you have all the solids and things like that. So they actually accumulate on sensor surfaces, unwanted accumulation. Meaning that you get the layer, a fouling, which prevents data to be, let’s say, recorded and transmitted.

Mika Tienhaara:
So we have come up with very robust or reliable sensor units, which read through that type of fouling layers. So we see beyond that. And that means that from a such a critical process as the, let’s say, separation area, we have continuous critical data 24/7. And based on this we have also, let’s say, the image recognition, talking about tomography and high resolution solutions of that, where we can then do a very, I would say, forensic analytics of what kind of matters you have in the flow. This translates to actually that you can tune your operations much better, you can get the better product quality. Then we talk about the gas, the oil, the water. And of course reduce the total cost, operating costs. This is critical.

How has IoT changed the Oil & Gas Industry?

Tom White:
Yeah. Yeah, indeed. Yeah. I completely understand. And I think, in a traditional sense, oil and gas has largely not been known for its digitalization, really, as an industry. And we’re now we’re seeing a lot more focus around sustainability and the crucial role of sustainability in the oil and gas industry. For Rocsole, the solution that you have, particularly using things like tomographic technology, how does that work in creating a more sustainable solution for the industry, Mika?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah, that’s a really good question, Tom. And first of all, you think that oil and gas and being, let’s say, coming with new technology, is that a good combination? I think definitely yes. Because, as you said, oil and gas is lagging behind in terms of digitalization. There’s been a lot of, let’s say, manual work offline, and not being quantified in real time, because it’s also very difficult. The variability between oil fields is huge. And the, let’s say, conditions can vary a lot. So what we have been seeing that, of course, there’s a huge waste in terms of energy spent to produce. The facilities are inefficient. So applying these type of solutions that we have on the technology, we can actually, let’s say, increase the energy efficiency. You can, for instance, then reduce the amount of chemicals used or the heat. And of course also handle or do the process control in that sense that you get the best quality out with a minimum effort. So that is quite critical.

Mika Tienhaara:
And of course, we see also from, let’s say, when you go to the emission and pollution control, by having better instrumentation and real time data, you can control, monitor, and mitigate that better. But actually I would like to point out that this is not just for the oil and gas industry. Our type of sensors and technology can be utilized in multi-industry, anywhere where you have some kind of, let’s say, process flow. And in our, let’s say, daily digitalized world where we use all the phones, et cetera, and we ask more from the chips, the semiconductors. Their yield has to be higher and higher, more bandwidth, more storage space, et cetera. So semiconductor industry and the production is actually applying more aggressive chemicals to improve that semiconductor performance. What this actually results in, that you get toxic pollution, and very rapid deposit buildup in exhaust ducts. And so that’s the same problem again. If you go in with monitoring tools like we have you can actually mitigate that or enable that.

Tom White:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mika Tienhaara:
It’s not just oil and gas. So we think about, let’s say, of course, providing or being an enabler for more affordable and cleaner energy.

What are the challenges for AI and IoT?

Tom White:
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s a very pressing subject right now in the world, isn’t it? And I think, Mika, what’s your opinion on this? There’s a lot more players coming to the market at the moment, innovating at a really accelerated rate within AI and IoT. What are the biggest challenges in your view for companies looking to adopt AI and IoT initiatives in the coming years?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah. I see a lot of examples and talk with peers also, innovators coming with AI, et cetera. Let’s say in oil and gas, like I mentioned, the variability is huge. So that might also cause some hurdles that you come to a, let’s say, piloting case, about how to scale up [inaudible 00:08:52]. That’s always a bit tricky. And I think there’s many who think they come with smart solutions, and they go to one oil company or energy company, and then you have a successful pilot there. And you knock on the door to the next one and then say, “Well, we didn’t develop or validate that, so we have to start all over with us.” And I think we have to, as the community in the oil and gas industry, also open up more, open innovation, collaboration. And I see a lot of tendencies now that it’s moving that way, tech companies working directly with the operators. And I think that’s the melody for the future.

Tom White:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think, from our point of view, from people that we’ve had on the show, people are saying similar things. So I completely agree with you. Just want to apologize, the lights have turned off in my office. I’m the only one here. So when I’m-

Mika Tienhaara:
Late night show.

How can businesses grow in the Oil & Gas Industry?

Tom White:
Yeah. So when I’m filming a podcast and what have you, I’m not walking around, so the motion sensors turn off. So for anyone that’s just noticed that the lights have turned off, then I do apologize. Mika, you’re obviously a serial entrepreneur, and intrapreneur, right? So you’ve got a lot of experience in scaling up companies, often from scratch. Slightly separate question here compared to IoT, but in your view, what are the key indicators that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can really take home as a key enabler for growth? What would you say were the top three things that people should be mindful of when trying to scale their businesses?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah, of course. I think it’s crucial or very critical to have the right team. You need to have a team that can perform, that is, let’s say, resilient, have a playbook or experience with it, because it’s a huge effort to scale up. And then of course, don’t just fall in love with your own product. You have to understand what is the business value for the customers. So you have to translate your value proposition into business value for customers. And I would say it’s hard work and a bit of luck too, into that mixture.

Tom White:
Yeah. But I think you create your own luck, don’t you?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah, yeah, yes. Absolutely.

Tom White:
And focusing in the right area, making quick decisions. And also having the agility to turn, I think, as a scale up business quickly is something that’s really important. Especially this year, Mika. Things have been tough for everyone. I don’t think there’s anyone that has been unaffected, because of the whole chain of events that have happened. So I think it’s important that people can change their businesses quite quickly when they need to. Right? So for me, that’s really, really important.

Tom White:
Lastly, really keen to hear where you might be going with Rocsole in the future, and what that means for the oil and gas industry. We have a lot of people talking about alternative power and what have you. I’m keen to understand where you are going with Rocsole, what this means for oil and gas, and what we can expect to see over the coming years?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah. Thanks Tom. Let me just tie back to your comment, to your last question there. I think also, let’s say, being dynamic, learning from your failures. You will fail with any venture in that sense, but take that as a learning point and pivot, adapt, go move forward, because you get better in that way.

Tom White:
No mistakes, just lessons. Right?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. So I think, where we are with Rocsole, and our management team, I mean, we’ve done several exits, and we are utilizing our capabilities in terms of scaling up our business now. So that’s the path we are on. We’re growing. We’ve had a record year this year, 2020.

Tom White:
Congratulations.

Mika Tienhaara:
Thank you. It’s been hard work, as always. But we are continuing to grow. And I think our purpose here is to build a really successful company, not just in oil and gas, various applications there, but also go into a multi-industry solution with this.

Tom White:
Yeah. Okay. Well, that’d be great to see in the future. It’ll be great to see where you go. I think with you at the helm, Mika, I’m sure there’ll be success. So good luck to you. You mentioned as well at the start of this, you’re off to America now, or you’re off to doing something in America?

Mika Tienhaara:
Yeah, thanks for asking, Tom. I’m not taking my Christmas leave yet. Still have one pitch event in New York today, where we are one of the emerging tech companies pitching at that event, with 400 investors. So really looking forward to that. Yeah.

Tom White:
Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. Well yeah, it goes without saying, good luck with that and I’m sure it’ll be well received. Mika, thank you so much for your time. It’s been lovely having you on the show. And really insightful to understand a bit more about Rocsole and what you’re looking to achieve with the business. We’d love to have you back on in the future to see where you’ve got to and how the business has evolved since the last time that you’ve spoken. So thank you so much for your time.

Mika Tienhaara:
It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Tom.

Tom White:
You’re very welcome.

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