Oil and Gas Operational Excellence Through Mobility and the Industrial Internet of Things

By Neil Bedekar | Dec 14, 2015

It is no secret that low oil and gas prices are changing the ways companies operate in the oil patch. In the past, companies turned to reduction-in-force (RIF) strategies to cut operating costs to remain viable during lean market conditions. Today, more innovative and competitive companies are focusing on Operational Excellence (OE) to not only further cut operating costs, but also increase their productivity, performance and profitability. Mobile technology and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are creating new and highly impactful opportunities to improve OE. Asset Tracking, Environmental, Health & Safety, Lone Worker Protection and Remote Asset Monitoring are all areas that mobile technology and the IIoT are revolutionizing as well as yielding a high return-on-investment (ROI) for OE initiatives. Companies emphasizing OE through mobile technology and the IIoT will handle lean market conditions better, as well as have a strategic advantage over their complacent competitors in markets.

Asset Tracking

Asset tracking refers to the method of tracking physical assets as they move through the supply chain. Efficient asset tracking prevents theft and loss, as well as optimizes a company’s supply chain through inventory monitoring, replenishment and forecasting. Surprisingly, many companies still manually log and track the movement of assets as they move through their ecosystem. Obviously, this can be very labor-intensive, time consuming and error-prone. Companies investing in OE are deploying mobile and IoT technologies, including RFID, iBeacons and barcodes, to digitally recognize, log and track an asset in real time. These systems reduce labor costs, theft and loss, as well as improve maintenance schedules and increase job uptime. Digitally tracking assets through mobile technologies and the IIoT allows companies to do more work with less team members as well as avoid the need to replace or repair equipment due to theft, loss or improper maintenance.

Environment, Health & Safety

Environmental, health and safety (EHS) departments, also known as SHE or HSE departments, are responsible for environmental protection, occupational health and safety at worksites.  Efficient EHS activities ensure both employees and the environment are protected. Companies investing in OE are leveraging augmented reality and the IIoT to allow their team to identify environmental, health and safety issues sooner. To take it to the next level, these companies are leveraging insights from this data to predict when a similar issue is likely to arise and taking preventative steps to ensure it is avoided. Digitally monitoring and predicting environmental, health and safety issues through augmented reality and the IIoT allows companies to not only better protect the environment and employees better, but also reduces costs and fines stemming from an issue.

Lone Worker Protection

Lone Worker Protection is responsible for ensuring the safety of workers when they are performing tasks without the direct assistance or supervision of a team member. Companies investing in OE are leveraging mobile technology and the IIoT to monitor the movement and vitals of workers in lone high risk environments. Through automated workflows, if the worker does not move for a predetermined timeframe or their vitals exceed predetermined limits, an emergency response is automatically triggered. When minutes and even seconds count, these automated workflows powered by mobile and IoT technologies can be the difference between life and death.

Remote Asset Monitoring

Planned and unplanned downtime is a huge cost to companies working in the oil patch. Surprisingly, many companies still manually monitor sensor data to keep their jobsites running. Obviously, this can be very labor intensive, time consuming and susceptible to errors.  Companies investing in OE are leveraging mobile technology and the IIoT to monitor sensor data to identify issues faster. To take it to the next level, they are leveraging insights from this data to predict when a piece of equipment is susceptible to failure which would lead to unplanned downtime. Proactive maintenance and understanding the conditions that cause equipment to fail allows companies to more accurately plan downtime as well as reduce unplanned downtime. Digitally monitoring equipment through mobile and IoT technologies ensures both planned and unplanned downtime are minimized.

The Time Is Now

More and more companies are focusing on OE, saving money and gaining a strategic advantage over their competition. Where can your organization see benefits from Operational Excellence powered by mobile technology and the IIoT?
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