Oil and gas companies operate in a resource-intensive, competitive, yet strictly regulated environment, creating challenges around asset management, operations, supply chains and maintenance. Companies are leveraging mobile technologies as they strive to boost productivity and minimize costs. Mobile solutions ensure workforces collaborate effectively and execute duties remotely through devices such as phones, tablets and other handheld computers. Expenditure on mobile technologies for the oil and gas industry is anticipated to reach $22.95 billion by 2026.
Mobile devices continue to evolve, adopting technology to become smarter and more reliable in the field. New generation devices run on artificial intelligence (AI)-based software and feature expanded bandwidths with capabilities to accommodate high-speed networks. Beyond improving connectivity, investing in mobile technologies contributes to safety and profitability, as well as other benefits.
1. Real-Time Field Data Collection & Validation
Oil and gas operations are data-intensive activities that require lots of fieldwork executed by multiskilled teams. Traditionally, datasets were acquired and analyzed manually, resulting in production backlogs. Modern oil and gas systems use mobile supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that rely on a network of sensors to collect, transmit and analyze data. Through field data analysis, operators can execute adjustments to production assets to meet desired targets. Field employees rely on mobile devices to gather and store data on critical aspects like pump flow rates, mud-tank capacities, drilling speeds, weather conditions, etc.
Throughout field exploration, mobile devices are used to accurately locate oil and gas reserves. In the process, the devices collect data that must be subjected to a rigorous validation and verification process before distribution to other departments. These devices sift through the abstract data, eliminating any irrelevant information. Useful data is then summarized into easily understandable 3D models and graphs.
2. Collaboration & Workforce Management
Oil and field companies are complex organizations that require communication between field and office teams that are typically in different locations. Mobile applications ensure that dispersed teams receive prompt communications from management regarding work schedules, rotations, policy changes, production targets and skill requirements.
Field workers use mobile devices to track and store work records, expenditures and report field incidences in real time. These devices are crucial in establishing transparency and visibility by tracking the locations of workers.
Live data collected by mobile devices are used to predict market demands, optimize supply chains and plan for deployment of additional production resources.
3. Asset Tracking, Maintenance & Monitoring
Oil and gas companies own assets that are crucial for exploration, drilling, refining and supply of products. An increase in a company’s asset base results in a spike in activities related to inspection, maintenance and live tracking. Unique barcodes are fixed on equipment to simplify tracking and identification. Specialized mobile devices are used to conduct environmental impact assessments and to inspect critical infrastructure (drilling rigs, pipelines and refineries).
Field equipment is fitted with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS) and radio frequency identification (RFID) devices for accurate location tracking. Location data provides insights to optimize supply chains, manage fuel consumption of moving assets and evaluate order fulfillment.
Companies are adopting maintenance strategies based on condition-monitoring sensors and equipment to ensure all assets are in perfect working conditions. Companies are moving from reactive maintenance and are adopting data-driven solutions like predictive maintenance. These solutions rely on networked sensors that continuously monitor the health of assets, ensuring corrective measures are applied before failures occur.
These measures are enhanced by mobile solutions. The ability to access data (like performance data and safety procedures) while in the field allows technicians and mechanics to complete jobs faster, safer and effectively. They can also receive updates and changes directly through the maintenance app. Lastly, having this software means they will be able to track time spent on repairs and spare parts used more accurately.
4. Materials Management
Intensive planning is required to ensure all departments have sufficient resources to support production. These resources include office supplies, safety equipment, spare parts and tools. This is an error-prone and time-consuming activity. To address this, companies have rolled out enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions that expedite functions like procurement, departmental material transfer and stock taking. Warehouse and store managers rely on software to track material issuance. The solutions automatically update in-house stocks and generate alerts when levels fall below a predetermined mark. The system allows employees to request new materials and conduct tool audits in a process that eliminates tedious paperwork.
Through mobile devices, teams can perform quality inspections, thus verifying the quality and origin of leased or newly procured materials. This improves safety, as defective or low-quality materials are identified and removed from stock batches.
5. Workplace Safety & Security
Oil and gas companies have strict operational guidelines owing to the precarious nature of products and working environments. Mobile devices have the potential to improve workflows while limiting on-site incidents. Field personnel can view field data with updates on accidents or potential hazards; individuals can report and file evidence of accidents.
Organizations have created interactive maps that can be easily accessed on mobile devices. These maps provide secure mobility routes to be used when conducting fieldwork, individuals or institutions to contact during an emergency and suitable mitigation measures in case of accidents or safety threatening incidents.
Mobile devices that rely on proximity sensors are used to authorize access to restricted sites in facilities and steer remote-controlled inspection devices that conduct checks on hazardous locations, protecting individuals from harm.
Reliance on mobile technology in the oil and gas sector consolidates field and office operations and provides an easy-to-navigate, collaborative platform for employees, management and stakeholders. The technology allows access to crucial operational information and accelerates decision-making, raising productivity levels by extension.
Adoption of the technology relies on devices that are resilient to withstand oilfield environments with the aid of custom-made software solutions. Stored data provides analytics for stakeholders to monitor business performance and for internal teams to assess productivity and policy compliance.