As a risky environment, Oil and Gas offshore operations claim meticulous interventions from the People on Board (POB). The term is used to track and manage the workforce and ensure safety, resource allocation, and overall operational efficiency. In this sense, managing People on Board (POB) it’s a crucial and inherent challenge to the oil and gas industry.

Oil and gas facilities may present risks such as explosions, health hazards, and oil leaks. Besides that, unplanned events happen, which requires workers to solve the occurrence. This harms the planning of the POB previously done and increases the downtime of the asset, which leads to significant financial losses and possible legal outcomes.

Therefore, the industry must rethink how to make the most out of their POB avoiding resource waste and accidents. However, to do so, it’s necessary to understand why having People on Board is such a big problem.


Why is POB Management an Oil and Gas challenge?


Operating in a naturally hazardous environment with a significant amount of flammable hydrocarbons requires careful management of People on Board. It involves locating, mapping, and addressing anomalies in +200,000m² areas. And, considering the location’s inherent risks, balancing the number of POB is crucial. In this volatile context, we highlighted two reasons why POB management is still a challenge to the Oil and Gas industry:



1- People on Board represent a valuable resource for the asset activities


Offshore operations have to manage restrictions on POB numbers, which addresses the most valuable resource O&G companies have, their human expertise. While reducing the POB count may appear straightforward, it is essential to have people on board to ensure the constant monitoring of the asset’s health. In this sense, professional intervention still remains essential to the asset’s activities. For this reason, it’s necessary to set in advance what the problem and the solution are for that specific job to be done. If set properly, workers can perform their tasks smoothly and without incidents.


2- Problems faced by the People on Board


Professionals face a multitude of challenges related to safety, logistics, technology, and human factors when displaced to offshore operations. It encompasses the remote location of the asset, difficult-to-access areas, dangerous activities, unstable weather, and isolation from their families for extended periods. And, when it comes not to just one professional, but an entire group, the operation carries with it a great deal of risks to the people involved, which may implicate direct expenses and indirect repercussions, further amplifying the economic burden.


As a result of this dicey scenario, there are several concerns about safety in offshore assets, and reducing the number of People on Board for inspection activities is a good way to improve it. This is made possible by new technologies, such as robots, drones, and sensors that not only reduce staff but also increase efficiency, doing the job faster in the combination of experienced workers + technology.


How technology reduces the POB numbers


Currently, it is no longer necessary to have entire teams on the asset to execute asset inspections. Industrial software using AI, digital twins, drones, photogrammetry, robots, and others, have managed to reduce the number of people on board while automating inspection processes. According to Statista, the size of the global industrial automation market should reach roughly 265 billion U.S. dollars by 2030



Companies that process thousands of barrels of oil can’t afford to expose their workers to these vulnerabilities. Therefore, adopting an automated asset inspection delivers a much faster and more accurate operational panorama. In this new context, it will no longer take months to complete the process with hundreds of professionals, creating a much more efficient process that requires far fewer POB.

Here are some of the main innovations reaching the oil and gas industry:




Significant players from the oil and gas industry have been adopting robots to execute inspections and other activities in hazardous heavy assets. According to Zippia, 88% of industries plan to invest in adding robotics to their operations. In the oil and gas industry, there are many examples of robots and their roles may vary according to the task. For instance, there are painting robots to execute coating, cleaning robots that go through pipelines, and a variety of inspection robots.



The most famous of them, Spot, also referred to as the robot dog, is crucial to identifying anomalies during inspections and it frees up operators to execute other works. It circulates the facility listening for strange noises and looking for malfunctions within the asset. Its observation capacities are beyond the human spectrum, which delivers a much more accurate analysis without exposing any human being to fatal risks.




ROVs, or Remotely Operated Vehicles, are free-swimming submersible crafts used to perform tasks within the subsea. They are employed to inspect and survey underwater structures, such as FPSOs, pipelines, shipwrecks, and underwater cables. They provide real-time video feeds and data, allowing operators to visualize and diagnose structures remotely.



Using ROVs in the oil and gas industry has significantly increased safety and efficiency in underwater operations. They have become an essential tool for inspecting offshore assets in one of the most challenging and demanding environments on Earth. This allows operators to perform tasks in dangerous and hazardous underwater places without exposing human divers to potential risks.




Drones are being used in the industry to execute inspections in a much faster and safer way than allocating professionals, such as climbers. Their main role is to fly along the asset inspecting for anomalies. For instance, inspecting assets such as FPSOs with drones is faster and safer than the traditional way.



According to ReliabilityWeb, drone-based inspection and maintenance provides a wide range of possibilities that take advantage of the mobility of the drone. This being said, it’s necessary to understand that drone use for inspections not only reduces POB but also enhances the performance of the asset. By adopting this technology, companies can integrate drone images with any kind of FPSO data within an app, facilitating the decision-making process.

By performing inspections digitally with Vidya’s platform, it becomes much easier to integrate equipment data, safety standards, and identify corrosion anomalies throughout the asset. This process not only reduces the number of POB required but also delivers work orders in up to 30 days.





It is known that POB management encompasses a variety of obstacles, such as legal limitations on POB numbers and the impact of unplanned events leading to downtime and other financial losses. By harnessing technology and moving towards digitalization, the oil and gas industry can improve safety, efficiency, and sustainability while overcoming those challenges.

Furthermore, embracing technology brings additional benefits beyond POB management. Great improvements are reaching the industry by providing new ways of visualizing the structure and reducing the number of people in the field, turning a complex process as offshore asset monitoring into easy and reliable. By considering the benefits of a digital management system, offshore oil and gas companies can stay competitive in an increasingly digital industry.

About the Author: Jorge Kunie
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