Mechanical engineer Kenneth Innes is responsible for millions of dollars worth of power plants on oil production platforms in Europe. A key part of his job is to prevent equipment failures and he has pioneered a clever new way of doing this and at the same time improving equipment performance and minimising energy usage.

Ken, Head of Rotating Equipment for Shell Exploration and Production in Europe, has won a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for his outstanding personal contribution with a commercial benefit to British engineering – Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley will present him with the medal at the Academy Awards Dinner in London on Monday 9 June.

Ken has led the development of a new online monitoring system, Smartconnect, that continuously monitors turbines, compressors and pumps , optimising both the maintenance and operational performance of the equipment. Drawing on multidisciplinary experience from Shell colleagues all over the world, Ken’s new approach is to analyse the kinds of failure that occur most often and then to use data that is collected routinely by the plant control systems to monitor the operating condition of the equipment. This is quite different from traditional monitoring systems, which focus on using sophisticated vibration measurements that are both expensive and complex to analyse. Smartconnect was tested on the Nelson production platform where it revealed various equipment problems at an early stage and thus maintenance could be programmed before failures occurred.

“Ken’s real innovation has been in combining knowledge and technology from a number of traditionally separate disciplines,” says Wim Hardeveld, Shell Global Discipline Head for Rotating Equipment. “Smartconnect can optimise the production process by 1 – 3 percent, so, on a typical platform producing 50-100 thousand barrels of oil a day, this could equate to over $100,000 each day in increased revenue.”

Ken is also cited for his contribution to developing the careers of new engineers. He has built up the Shell Monitored Professional Development Scheme with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to assist 45 young engineers in various locations across Europe.

Ken graduated with the Degree of BSc (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Aberdeen and is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Board Member of the I.Mech.E. Fluid Machinery Group.

“Receiving this award is a great honour for me and also fantastic recognition for the outstanding efforts of the team that worked on the development of the new tool set. Widespread application of the tools is leading to major improvements in how we manage critical Rotating Equipment worldwide in order to maximise business benefits and minimise operating risks.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Academy's Silver Medals were instigated in 1995. They are awarded annually to engineers who have made outstanding contributions offering a commercial benefit to British engineering but have been working as an engineer for no more than 30 years. Up to four medals may be awarded each year.

    This year’s other Silver Medals go to Paul Westbury of Buro Happold, Dr Adrian Travis of Microsoft and Dr Barbara Lane of Arup.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636
Jack Page at Shell Exploration and Production Europe Tel. 01224 884947