A female worker wearing PPE, using a Microsoft Surface Pro at MacKay River site.

We are introducing digital tools, standardizing processes and applying advanced analytics to improve our business performance. Gathering and analyzing multiple data points and applying insights help us to run our operations more safely, reliably and profitably while reducing costs and environmental impacts.

Reliability and process safety

Advanced analytics

We are implementing advanced analytics to improve personal and process safety, asset reliability, operations optimization and environmental performance. Representing a broad range of solutions, advanced analytics allows for sophisticated data mining that produces deeper insights into patterns and trends across our assets and workforce.

An example of this work is the application of analytics of process hazards and controls to support the focus on quality and prioritization of improvement opportunities. As a result, we can make data-informed decisions and take action that can prevent incidents. We expect this increased ability to make evidence-based predictions should improve reliability, reduce maintenance costs and optimize facility throughout.

Workers at east tank farm sitting by their computers wearing personal protective equipment.
In 2020, East Tank Farm employees approved the first-ever electronic work permit in the Digital Control of Work (DCoW) pilot program.

Connecting frontline staff

We are connecting frontline staff to digital solutions – enabling maintenance and operations workers to create and have access information in the field. These initiatives will enhance safety and productivity by facilitating better and immediate data-based decisions that improve our operations.

Innovation in safety

Opportunities to reduce safety risks are always a priority, and remote sensing technologies provide solutions that are quick, safe and cost-efficient.


Drones are used in our operations to assist with equipment inspection, maintenance and turnaround planning, and earthworks surveying. Their use has resulted in reduction of safety risks by decreasing worker exposure to hazardous tasks, such as survey crews working in remote areas, and the improvement of operations and project outcomes.

Image of Suncor employees on FPSO taken by a drone.
Using drones to inspect the flare tip onboard Terra Nova.

Wireless employee monitors

Wireless employee monitors allow us to remove obstacles that may inhibit an employee’s work and empowers us to provide faster emergency response. The devices are equipped with sophisticated gas detection monitors, which can detect hazardous levels of certain gases or solvent vapours. This allows us to identify dangerous conditions and move employees out of those areas to secure locations. The monitors are also equipped with a man down and panic button that can be used in an emergency.

Wireless employee monitors have been implemented at three sites, and the data is used to perform analytics for lower-level safety exposures and to help us identify plant integrity issues - enabling us to respond to issues, both in real time and proactively.

We are evaluating other uses for the devices. These include internal inspection of confined space, fugitive emission monitoring and leak detection.

Robotic process automation

We continue to explore more opportunities using robotic process automation (RPA). To date, we have employed RPA for high-volume, rule-based and routine work.

These new automation solutions are helping streamline our business processes, making it easier for our employees to get their jobs done so they can focus on higher-value work.

We see intelligent business process automation as a key digital enabler to deliver high-value business transformation.

A man standing holding used for tank inspections.
A robot is used to conduct safe and efficient diesel tank inspections at the Rimouski Terminal in Rimouski, Que. It enabled a virtual inspection of the 10-foot diameter tank floors and allowed us to gather up to 15,000 data points per tank that could be statistically analyzed.

Cloud-based refinery digitization

We are harnessing digital technology capabilities to help improve the safety, productivity, reliability and environmental performance of our operations. Currently, we are piloting the integration of cloud computing at the Montreal refinery to capture, analyze and provide recommendations to the facility using our existing operations process data.

While we are refining the models, the connector to and from the cloud allows us to send data to and from a database in Montreal that records the facilities’ operations data including the temperatures, pressures and volumes utilized. The cloud takes the data, models and provides recommendations for the optimized method to run the facility and help us quickly and accurately implement these recommendations at our plant operations.

To ensure the security of our data, our cyber security team have been instrumental in piloting this project. Ensuring the success of the pilot at the Montreal refinery will allow us to replicate the functionality to digitize our other refineries.

Innovation in mining

Shovel Virtual Coach

To improve the operational performance and productivity of our shovels, we introduced the Shovel Virtual Coach, a digital technology that equips our shovel operators with real-time data. This technology enables operators to make immediate decisions and adjustments by showing them accurate data of the tonnage of every truck load, load time performance, and reliability events that contribute to shovel damage.

Immediate access to these metrics will enable shovel operators to improve, in real time, payload compliance, load time and reduce truck delays to maximize performance.

Touchscreen tablets are mounted in the cab of the shovel for safe and easy accessibility by our shovel operators.

A man standing holding used for tank inspections.
An operator fills the shovel bucket with the help of the Shovel Virtual Coach.


The TonyC analytical product was developed to improve bitumen extraction, data collection and performance, both now and in the future. The product is used by the control room operators, supported by business translators, to evaluate current operating conditions and make recommendations for various set points to improve plant performance. It enables teams that have business and analytics expertise to optimize the current operating conditions to increase bitumen production, while providing training for long-term performance.

TonyC was first rolled out at our Millennium Ore Processing Plant in 2020, followed by the Steep Bank Ore Processing Plant, and a planned road map for future deployments.