Oilfields are not new to technology. The serious investments in automation instrumentations are proof. The challenge lies in the ability of the field to act upon the hundreds of alarms every minute. How can these automation investments be made meaningful?
The field is often not warm to adopt new technology tools. What lies behind this resistance and what can ease the transition towards tech led operational efficiencies?
I found the answer in one of the many of my ride-along. Here, let me share with you the story of a day in a Permian oilfield.
It is 5 AM, the sun has barely risen, and we are at one of the largest oilfields in the Permian Basin. There is a slight chill in the breeze as we hop on to the truck and begin a 40 miles ride to our first stop. I am riding along Andrews*, one of the most senior Lease Operators riding these turgid plains for decades.
Andrews is used to carrying his grease sheet and jotting down the readings for every object, every instrument, at every stop on his route. Today, he has traded his grease sheet for JOYN FSM on his mobile. He is unsure if the simple looking app will actually make his life simpler!
He is not the only one to be skeptical of new technology. Most field workers see a new tool as another complicated interface, asking for more time from their already packed schedule. And, that is why it’s our practice to support them at every step, guiding them through initial phases. I offered to ride along to help as Andrews made his first brush with mobile-enabled field data capture.
Despite the well-received training sessions in preceding days for each field staff, there was still some hesitation. After all, this was the first time they would use mobile phones to do actual work, not just make calls!
As we reached the stop, Andrews hopped off and recorded chemical readings, his first task for the day. He could see the historical data and compare the injection rates. This caught his interest. Next, he accessed the AVO form and filled it in swiftly. The time he spent on the stop was half of what he would have spent any other day.
And, this was just the beginning.
As we drove along, network connectivity thinned. Andrews was worried for loss of data already captured. I reassured him, with the auto sync on, the data is automatically uploaded to the cloud as soon as we get connectivity. There is no risk of losing a single reading.
We reached a battery to collect run tickets. The cardboard box had a few already. Andrews was used to taking them home and copying the data into excel after dinner. He was so relieved that all he had to do now was take a picture of the run ticket on his iPhone and the data was captured on his app. He did a quick check, added comments and the information was sent back to the office. His duty was done right there in the field!
And, this time when we hopped back in the truck, he had a smile of satisfaction on his face. He had finally found an ally in JOYN FSM, intuitively leading him to complete his tasks, saving time, easing his day.
Andrews saved two hours that day. He did not drive back to the office to enter the data he would usually capture on sheets. For once he was not carrying work home, no more keying in or validating data on excel sheets. All this was done in the field, with ease and speed.
The next day he was excited to start his day with JOYN FSM. After only a day he trusted the platform and encouraged his colleagues to give it a try.
The key to overcoming resistance to change lies in demonstrated value. When lease operators complete tasks, add their comments and update status – all in one place, they see the value. They now gain time to do much more important tasks. And, this sums up the core of technology-driven connected oilfields – equipping every worker to pump by exception and deliver more during the same workday.
SCADA and automation instrumentations have been dotting every mile for quite some time now. The challenge, however, is to rationalize the hundreds of alerts and prioritize them for the field to act swiftly. Getting the best guy to fix the most critical, the high-value asset has been a gap so far. Route optimization solutions developed in-house tried to address some of these challenges but could only come halfway. Off the shelf field services, management solutions could barely begin to understand the oilfield nuances. No wonder these tools and applications mustered lukewarm response from fields, at best.
Technology is not a solution in itself. It is successful only when it is used to solve everyday challenges. Technology tools must be developed grounds up, empathizing with the field, offering an easy, scalable and trustworthy solution, to gain respect and overcome adoption challenge. JOYN FSM is the first pump by exception platform trusted by field, responding to everyday challenges swiftly.
Note: *names changed to protect the identity of our clients