Oil and gas industry needs to return to a “matchsticks and cardboard” approach to speed up R&D

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Josh Valman, the 22 year-old CEO of RPD International, who built his first robot aged ten, and was earning £10,000 a week from his bedroom enterprise at 15, is set to give his views on rapid technology development and deployment at the ITF Showcase in Aberdeen.

RPD International was valued at £1 million within its first six months and now has offices in London, Holland, China and Singapore, working with more than 100 corporate R&D departments around the world. The company helps businesses quickly develop new products, test and scale them for the first 12 – 24 months, reducing the cost and risk of validating new markets and technologies.

Valman, who freelanced after school for multinational firms who didn’t know his age, designing components and exporting manufacture to China, will address delegates during the plenary of the conference and exhibition on 1st March. He believes current 8 – 15 year time-scales for oil and gas technology development need to be tackled with new approaches.

“The oil and gas industry is still too quick to move to metal at the testing stage and has forgotten how to use cardboard and matchsticks which is debilitating the R&D process. If as an industry you move straight to a $2 million investment in metals to effectively test a theory, this will undoubtedly impact on the ability to be efficient and cost effective. Oil and gas is quite rightly risk averse; there are safety implications, but it is also well established with a lot of incremental technology development, so much can be learned from approaches by the neighbouring aerospace industry in proving technology with models and plastics,” he said.

RPD International actively head-hunts world leading engineers and brings in external input from psychologists, spinal surgeons and other specialists to attack product development challenges with fresh perspective for the likes of Vodafone, Air New Zealand and Unilver.

Valman challenges traditional product development models. “Many large companies are not competing in the same playing field any longer because you have bedroom operations with access to global markets and kick-starter funding. From a manufacturing perspective, companies with large overheads may struggle to compete with a model that is more nimble and can accelerate that innovation process.
“We find that by putting engineers in a room with a psychologist and spinal surgeon, problems are addressed through a different way of thinking. It’s always worth looking outside of your industry to solve a problem.”

The annual ITF Technology Showcase at AECC – Technology in Action – brings together some of the brightest minds from inside and outside of oil and gas to challenge current thinking and bring fresh focus on progressing new solutions.

Dr Geoff McGrath, Chief Innovation Officer at McLaren Applied Technologies and the KPMG McLaren Alliance will give a keynote on ‘innovation from outside our industry’ at the conference and exhibition at AECC on Wednesday 1st March.

Other plenary speakers include Colette Cohen, Chief Executive of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), Dr Geoff Nesbitt, Group Head of Technology Strategy at Petrofac and Willie Reid, Director of the Strathclyde Oil and Gas Institute. Gunther Newcombe, Director of Operations, Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and Greta Lydecker, Managing Director, Chevron Upstream Europe will also join the morning panel session.

An Innovation hall will be dedicated to supporting the innovator community and showcasing the very best in new thinking, products, solutions and services.

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