Mobile visual collaboration allows instant connection for improved efficiency

Thu, 07/15/2010

Connecting disparate experts, offices, and projects is increasingly critical to successful oilfield operations. Reality Mobile is introducing a new oilfield solution that allows any number of employees and contractors around the globe to collaborate instantly, diagnosing and responding to unplanned events faster than ever.

Onshore or offshore, remote environments are challenging workplaces. Adding further complexity, remote assets must be monitored constantly to ensure smooth operations. Constant production uptime is not a reality. Breakdowns, as well as the time required to diagnose and make repairs, are expected costs of doing business. However, failures can threaten productivity and employee safety.
A new approach addresses the challenges of remote operations. A mobile, visual collaboration platform, RealityVision gives E&P organizations the capability to connect any number of employees and contractors located anywhere in the world at the push of a button. The ability for organizations to instantly see, discuss, and address unexpected events is paving the way for more informed decisions with unprecedented speed, reducing downtime, increasing production, and protecting employee safety.

Conquering oilfield challenges

Oilfield operators and service companies work hard to maximize production while maintaining safe efficient operations in production environments that unite employees across disciplines. When unexpected events occur – whether a downhole tool malfunction or HSE incident – these factors complicate problem solving because managers, experts, and other key players are often working in different locations far from the episode. With nonproductive time and hundreds of thousands of dollars potentially hanging in the balance, the primary challenge in addressing unplanned events is quickly connecting the right experts to one another and to the situation at hand.

RealityVision is a software platform built on industry-standard infrastructure and operable on wireless networks (including cellular and satellite) that allows numerous users to collaborate by creating a comprehensive real-time view of an event. The platform leverages devices that are already commonly in use, such as laptops, cell phones, and fixed cameras, to create a network where employees can securely share and collectively view information, images, GPS data, and video.

Once the system is installed, employees can access the network from anywhere in the world and transmit any kind of information that can be viewed in the field or on a computer screen – for example, a video shot in real time from a smart phone, or a SCADA display being monitored from a real-time center. Further, the system can help E&P companies make the most of existing investments in fixed cameras. Static camera feeds can tie into the system, allowing mobile monitoring of remote locations.

RealityVision delivers the missing link among field personnel, experts, processes, and technologies in a mobile dynamic format that does not require people to travel to collaborate on a problem.

Faster inspections, repairs, maintenance

Nonproductive industry drilling time is estimated at 15% to 35% of total rig time. With rig rates of US $50,000 to $500,000/day or more, downtime for inspections, repairs, and other maintenance immediately impacts revenue. Further, a lack of experienced employees in remote locations increases the time required to address problems and can present threats to employee safety.

Most current problem-solving methods rely on traditional communication tools - face-to-face meetings, e-mail, or phone calls – all of which can come with lengthy delays as information is sent, analyzed, and acted upon.

For example, an operator working off the coast of Aberdeen experiencing a critical downhole tool breakdown that halts production needs to bring together employees on the rig that witnessed the incident, managers with the authority to choose a solution, and experts with the background to diagnose the situation. To do so, the operator calls a meeting in Aberdeen to assemble relevant employees to examine data from the broken tool and information from other downhole sensors and equipment to formulate a solution. Without the ability to maintain a real-time view of the situation on the rig, the operator may need to hold five or six such meetings before a solution and plan of action can be agreed upon. 

The new approach changes that scenario. When the downhole tool breaks, employees on the site can immediately send live images and video to a central control center through which every manager and expert who needs to be a part of the diagnosis can view it in real time – regardless of their geographic location. If an expert does not have access to the control center, video can be streamed to him or her via a mobile device.

Simultaneously, employees monitoring the rig’s operations in a real-time center can use the Screencast feature to share real-time data from the downhole equipment being monitored. Screencasting allows employees to stream a portion of a computer screen – whether it is a schematic or a dynamic video feed – to any other user on the network.

With the new system, the operator’s field personnel, managers, and experts can create a collective view of the tool malfunction in minutes. Further, this view is available in real time. RealityVision allows the operator to determine how to best address the issue quickly, without having to transport employees to a common meeting facility or to the scene.

Also, depending on the severity of the incident, RealityVision can empower employees in the field to take action and make repairs that otherwise could not have been carried out. Using the system’s ability to transmit schematics, data, images, and videos, remotely located experts can work virtually side-by-side with colleagues on the scene to walk through repairs and operations. These capabilities also apply to routine inspections, which can now be done remotely.

Protect employees

The new system also supports improved HSE and medical response for incidents occurring on remote sites. The ability to instantly collaborate by creating a shared view of an incident applies directly to HSE scenarios.

Current approaches to medical response and employee safety concerns require a lot of time. If an employee is injured working in a remote area, diagnosis is currently done via e-mail or phone, leaving room for a delayed or incorrect analysis of the condition and, as a result, potentially ineffective treatment.

With the new approach, medical personnel can see a dynamic, real-time view of the injury and guide employees on the scene to take immediate steps to remedy the situation.

This system also can incorporate GPS data from smart phones attached to the network to speed employee response and help protect workers in dangerous locations. When an incident occurs, workers in a central command center can use GPS information to locate the nearest employee able to respond. And when safety is a primary concern, GPS data can be used to ensure employees are within company grounds and prompt a quick response if something goes awry.

With this new approach, experts no longer have to be on site to solve problems. An organization can quickly make smart, fully informed, and considered decisions on unexpected incidents. By enabling field personnel, experts, and management to collaborate simply and efficiently, operators can save travel time and expenses, increase production, reduce downtime, and enhance employee safety.