Internet of Things Can Increase Effectiveness of Field Crews

Digi International, which for the past 20 years has focused on the machine-to-machine communications through off-the-shelf products or embedded modules that device manufacturers can incorporate into products to provide radio connectivity, sees Internet of Things technologies as a means of improving the effectiveness of oil and gas field personnel who are going from site to site for scheduled visits for repairs. At times, the data that is compiled on paper from these visits can get mistranslated. The time involved in making scheduled visits and logging data can make it difficult for field personnel to address unscheduled problems when they arise, said Larry Jovanovic, vice president of Cloud Solutions for Etherios, a division of Digi, in an interview with Rigzone.

“They have little visibility in prioritizing the workflow that’s coming from individual wells,” said Jovanovic.

For example, workers may be scheduled to visit a site that only produces 12 barrels per day (bpd), and don’t know to adjust their schedule to first address an unexpected problem at a well that produces 600 bpd, which will have a greater impact on a company’s bottom line.

“We give them visibility from the CEO down and linkage to Big Data that allows them to take data from the field and presenting to business owners for trending and analytics as companies move towards a predictive maintenance model for field assets,” Jovanovic commented.

Digi said it is spending quite a bit of time getting traction with its customers on the idea of predictive maintenance. Historically, the industry followed a reactive model in which it responded to problems when something broke. Later, companies began transitioning to pro-active models like preventive maintenance, such as replacing parts on a set schedule, or latching on to social media monitoring to hear feedback from customers on products. However, these solutions have proven to be inefficient and expensive. Now, Digi is working to take its technology to allow for real-time monitoring that can allow companies to mine data over time and big out leading indicators that can identify problems before they arise and before customers are even aware.

This technology capability is mostly applicable to upstream – which Digi sees as low-hanging fruit– where it can benefit field personnel and assets, and because midstream assets are more widely spread out and serviced differently. Upstream also tends to have a lot of subcontractors involved in projects and a number of people from outside of a company that need to have access to provide services. Digi is looking at ways to allow these subcontractors to have access to the data they need – and not all data – so they can service drilling and production systems, according to Jovanovic.

Jovanovic compared how field personnel could be helped by Internet of Things technology as to how a police department is run. A police force might have X number of cars, and if something is happening or potentially happening, the cars that are the closest to the incident and have the right tools are called and given basic information so they can determine whether they should respond. This can make communication easier to distribute and understand.


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Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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