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TAB Energy - better ways to work with old documents

Thursday, November 8, 2018

TAB, a digital transformation company which helps energy companies manage paper and electronic documents, is developing better ways to help companies manage legacy documents and data, using advanced algorithms

TAB, a digital transformation company which helps energy companies manage and optimize paper and electronic documents, is developing better ways to help companies manage legacy documents and data, using advanced algorithms.

The company's clients are largely onshore operators and pipeline operators in the US and Canada, with some clients in Nigeria and the UK in E&P and midstream. It digitises an estimated 500,000 sheets of paper every day.
The company has been selling filing system solutions in the energy industry for over 50 years, and digital solutions since 2002.

TAB's software can typically auto classify about 80 per cent of documents in a typical company especially during acquisition and divestiture activity.

The machine classification is initially supported by (human) subject matter experts who can identify tricky documents, such as a lease or right of way. Over time, the software gets better and better, reaching 95 to 98 per cent accuracy.

The company has its own proprietary algorithms, but says they usually need to be tweaked for every client - different companies want to classify certain documents in different ways.

TAB's system 'learns' the documents of each client. 'Every client is a bit unique,' says Chuck Stilwill, senior vice president of energy with TAB. Typically the confidence level of the classification gradually increases.

There are some basic 'rules' which have been used to help classify documents for a few years, such as if there is a dollar sign, what comes after it is more likely to be a number than a word. These rules can get more sophisticated, for example noting that if there's a dollar sign and geographic information in a document, it may be information about royalty payments for a certain area.

Business applications

One business application example is for a pipeline company, which wanted to do a safety audit on their equipment.

As part of a regular safety audit, safety managers need to check through safety reports issued on different 'heat numbers' (a number allocated to different types of steel) and see if they were related to any of their pipelines, a very time-consuming work with most of the reports still on paper.

TAB's software can identify very specific data points, in this instance it was able to identify heat numbers of interest on scanned documents, enabling the task to be done faster and cheaper. Before digitizing the company's legacy documents, all that information was basically 'locked' in a box, only valuable to those people who were aware of it, once it was digitized and classified, it was then valuable to the entire organization.

Another example was when a company had a problem testing cement in wells in Nigeria, because the company had digitized all their legacy documents, with a simple query the drilling engineer was able to determine there had been a similar example in Alberta, with similar cement formulation and vendors involved. The company was able to easily access the records of what happened in Alberta, and so avoided making the same mistakes again.

Some companies have scanned and classified all their paper documents in the last decade but did not grab all the metadata or data points, TAB is able to run those documents through its software very quickly, pull the metadata, populate other databases and make that information much more valuable.
'The classification systems have gotten much better, so it is worthwhile them doing a classification again, Mr Stilwill says.

There is a chasm between employees who are used to working with paper and the new generation who expects to work in a digital environment, including being able to access company documents from home or mobile computers. 'TAB's digital transformation makes it much easier for those who are used to working in a paper environment because we are able to digitize, classify and index very quickly, giving then confidence in the new digital environment. Technology has advanced, what TAB is doing is helping companies bridge that chasm and ultimately unlock their data making that information much more valuable to the entire organization,' added Stilwill.

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