Keeping track of the location of rig mats in remote locations is a considerable economic concern for the oil and gas industry. Due to the remote nature of the location of such expensive product and from constant use the number of mats that were lost easily exceeded 40% of total inventory annually.
Our solution traces their location in remote areas using low-cost RFID tags and directional antennas affixed to trucks moving through the area, reducing replacement costs by 35 per cent. The technical hurdles to overcome was the limited range of RFID transmission signals through mud and snow. Using custom designed antennas mounted to service vehicles travelling through the area our team was able to detect mats buried more than a 30 centimeters underground. Coupling with a logging unit in the service vehicle and a GPS unit the last known location of each tag was continually updated. If one didn’t report for a period of time its’ last known location can be sent to a worker to dig it out and put it back in service.
The large area these mats can travel, the lack of reliable connectivity and cost of reporting findings back to a central system via satellite relays made traditional solutions impossible as they needed constant communication with a central server. Our distributed solution allowed for each service vehicle to become its own “central server” for the purposes of this solution. When the service vehicle embedded computer entered WiFi range of a company data hub it would automatically synchronize the findings it had from the field with the main server and receive any updates the main server had to report to the vehicle. This vastly reduced costs, however with such advanced processing and analytics on each service vehicle the satellite communication would be utilized to report to a main server under emergencies that the system was trained to identify.
The Nu-Worx teams’ knowledge in RFID inventory management could easily see such a solution be implemented in a remote location where communication is limited. Work alone solutions to monitor worker safety is another such implementation of such a solution.