3D Printing: A Solution for Parts Acquisition in Remote Areas?
Automating MRO Warehouses
Maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) decisions reach far beyond repair and maintenance processes. Optimizing MRO involves refining procurement and sourcing methods to get the most out of budgets spent on services, supplies and tools. In some cases, MRO represents 40 to 45 percent of operating expenditures. Here are five rising trends I believe will affect your ability to keep MRO lean and effective.
Internet of Things
Oil and gas providers are increasingly relying on Internet of Things (IoT) components, such as highly accurate software tracking, sensors and cloud computing, to stock, monitor and supply inventory, as well as manage and support operations in the field. For example, Hilcorp Energy offshore rigs use sensors installed in pumps and equipment to monitor flow rates, pressure, temperature and other elements to ensure it is operating within standards, but also to detect problems quickly. Sensor technology helps prevent pump failures that can mean a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars every day. I see increased implementation of sensors as a leading trend in MRO warehouse automation.
Age of Mobility
Customer expectation for low-cost products delivered quickly, governmental pressure and rapidly changing technology require oil and gas MRO warehouses to embrace mobility. I see mobility will become a definitive best practice for every top-performing MRO warehouse in the future. Mobility features allow continuous adaptation to market conditions and external circumstances. Managers and staff alike can make better decisions with real-time data, including inventory levels, machine part breakdown projections, customer information and more. Even simple data capture and validation in the field reduces errors and improves safety compared to traditional paper forms.Rapid Product Prototyping
Recent innovations in 3D printing allow rapid product prototyping. As an example, GE Oil and Gas used rapid prototyping when creating the burner for a gas turbine called the NOVALT16. They were able to bring down the development and validation cycle by half using 3D printing methods.
Energy companies are not always quick to adapt to new technology, but barcoding is simple, reliable technology every firm can embrace. My list of benefits of barcoding include: prevents human error, simplifies data entry, decreases tracking time, is great for remote locations and allows data to be available in real time. Inputting numbers, customer data and tracking information by hand takes forever. Barcode scanners are lightning fast, and scan codes can be attached to products, pallets, shelving sections, and modal transport containers. We have seen increases in efficiency of up to 40% in counting inventory using the RigServ barcoding system and mobile devices.
Warehouse automation can go a long way to eliminating obsolete practices like entering data on a form on a clipboard and then retyping in to a computer on a rig. Real-time dashboards with clear, informative data visualization help me get fast answers in real time. What parts are most in demand? What parts can we order as needed rather than keep on-site? How soon are major components expected to break down? Visualization dashboards help you turn the reams of data you collected into actionable information. Even more important, graphs, charts and infographics help me present my ideas and recommendations more clearly to management, staff, suppliers and investors. These are tools that turn raw data into business intelligence.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses radio waves to read data stored on tags attached to objects. Although RFID is increasingly used in a variety of drilling operations, including helping to better manage downhole tools in deep wells, it's more commonly used to manage assets. The tags are easily secured to objects and can be read in warehouses or open yards from a great distance. I like RFID because of the speed model numbers, manufacturer's data, inspection records and other information that can be collected.
|Automation technology keeps moving ahead at a blistering pace, with new applications appearing daily. Recently, Amazon began experimenting with using RFID to eliminate the need to go through checkout lanes in supermarkets. Similarly, warehouse automation tools continue to develop and improve. Energy companies that avoid incorporating new technology will fall behind in the age of data.|