In the oil industry, there is a term that is used quite often to describe the use of technology in drilling operations. Digital oil field refers to the use of mobile and digital technology to virtually connect everything that is occurring for a particular operation at an oil field. The merging of mobile and digital applications creates many benefits for the oil industry, which in the end can help everyone save a little extra on their fuel costs.
Oil fields are huge operations that cover miles of property. From the extraction process to equipment movement, truck locations and numerous tests and statistics, the effort involved to get oil from the ground to the gas pump is a highly complicated process. The oil field alone has a multitude of tasks occurring simultaneously, but all need to be coordinated to make sure the operation runs smoothly.
In the past, many of these oil field tasks were run within their own silos with very little communication from one operational step to the next. For example, if a repair vehicle was needed to work on a piece of drilling equipment a phone call was typically made and schedules had to be adjusted. This greatly impacts productivity and can cause even more expenses down the line.
With digital oil fields, maintenance tasks can be scheduled and equipment monitored using mobile devices such as smart phones or tablet computers. Routing of service technicians can occur by entering a request on the mobile device, and the nearest technician can be assigned to the task. GPS tracking can also help to find the nearest vehicles and make sure they arrive at the right place for the repair.
By digitally connecting all of the various parts of an oil field operation, productivity can be increased while costs can be reduced. Monitors are able to keep track of wellhead conditions, pipelines, mechanical systems and other areas. The information is then transmitted to a database that can provide status updates in real time to the rest of the oil field operations. The timeliness of data helps to improve quality and reduce any potential downtime so productivity is higher. Also the massive amounts of data can now be analyzed at a macro level to discover trends and other cost saving opportunities.
With the improvements in mobile technology, the labor requirements to monitor and manage the operations have improved as well. Because the software is easier to use there is no need for expensive training to get new hires up to speed. Instead these employees can begin using the technology almost immediately, which helps the company and also helps those who need work to get back on the job.
Digital oil fields are a big business. With the convergence of technologies and leveraging mobile applications there is measurable value in the use of these new solutions. As oil companies continue to feel pressure for governmental compliance, environmental issues and maximizing every penny, digital oil fields can help all of us to feel better at the gas pump.