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Kongsberg Digital Houston

Houston is one of the largest cities in the US and well known as both an oil town and as the command centre for the US space programme.

  • Text:Stuart Brewer

    Photo:Einar Aslaksen

It is also home to Kongsberg Digital Inc., the US subsidiary of Kongsberg Digital (KDI). Rajesh Baskaran is president of the company and says that there are 54 employees in the office which is shared by Kongsberg Maritime and its 45 staff.

Rajesh joined the company as a senior consultant in 2007 just after KONGSBERG had acquired a local simulation company and has progressed through the ranks taking over the lead role in 2019.

Explaining the activity of the office Rajesh says all three divisions of KDI are represented here, “Digital Wells is one unit which focuses on solutions for reducing drilling and well operation costs, Digital Energy which covers simulation and production assurance along with Digital Twin (DT) is the second and finally, the third segment, which is Digital Ocean, the Vessel Insight component.”

“Digital Twin is one of KONGSBERG’s fastest growing, high potential product. So we’ve got a growth initiative in Houston around that, we’re recruiting and we’re also delivering projects to our key customers here. Digital Ocean is brand new for us, we’ve just hired a first employee, a transfer from Kongsberg Maritime,” adds Rajesh.

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Expanding upon the high activity around Digital Twin, Rajesh says that the pandemic was actually helpful in proving the concept’s worth. “2020 was tough for some companies but our digital business actually grew. Revenue was 22% up and profitability grew 50% relative to budget. We changed our way of working and our sales, delivery, and support teams enabled to do work from home via our software, virtual connections and cloud operations. So we flipped a switch and basically kept the same pace, but with lower operating expenses, fewer tradeshows and travel.”

“Interestingly, some of our customers had to pull off their entire staff on some facilities due to Covid but with a Digital Twin of their facility they were able to maintain progress of project commissioning and testing via our office remotely for the first few months. And then after a HSE risk evaluation they were allowed into our office and worked on the software and the simulator.”

On future prospects Rajesh says, “Because we thrived during the global slowdown, we’ve managed to take a strong position and now we expect accelerated growth as economies reopen. Our biggest challenge right now is recruiting and finding the right talent to staff these projects and deploy our software solutions.”

Rajesh says that although several organisations in oil & gas are contracting, those with a strong survival instinct are looking to be part of energy transition and keen to work more efficiently making use of the Digital Twin model. “So oil & gas is not going away, projects are not going away – they’ll be done more efficiently, and facilities will last longer, they’ll be more automated and optimised. And that’s where our software and solutions plug in. We enable companies to make the transformation, the life-extensions, changing their business models and focus,” says Rajesh, pointing out that those customers include some of the biggest names in the sector such as Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and many more beside.

“Right now, Houston is an important site for KDI, our products and people are great and we’ve built a culture of performance on the foundation of the KONGSBERG values. We’re supporting many exciting projects not just here but also in Canada, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil so I see Houston being the hub for growth within the Americas,” Rajesh concludes.