Would you like to find a way to reduce error and improve productivity when your company is carrying out inspection work? Of course you would! The concept of electronic ATEX equipment in the Oil & Gas Industry is gathering pace and with both equipment and technology improving and new ideas emerging all the time, the benefits of adopting this technology is hard to ignore.
What are the benefits of Handheld Equipment?
There are many reasons why ATEX equipment is the right route to go:
- Using electronic equipment can streamline processes, creating a leaner work environment and increasing efficiency; the ATEX certification overcomes their use in certain explosive or hazardous environments.
- Real time data access on site, which benefits all departments involved and allows for quick resolution of any problems.
- Scope for error is minimised, and any issues can be resolved straight away. Data is always electronically backed-up should any mistakes occur.
- There is the potential that less manpower will be required with the use of these technologies, therefore reducing the overall budget needed for certain projects.
- Quicker project completion due to near real-time communication, enabling staff to be productive and get more done in less time without a reduction in quality of work.
- Live data results in increased awareness where everyone who needs to ‘know’ does by sharing data automatically.
Here at SCM, we are currently using the ATEX certified XploreTech ‘Bobcats’ and ‘ecom’ supplied Samsung TabEx’s. We have these at various on and offshore sites, with the Bobcats being used by our in-house surveyors, Client QC’s and Fabric Maintenance Supervisors. The smaller ‘ecom’ ATEX PDA’s (which double as phones and walky-talkies too) are deployed to maintenance Supervisors and Foremen; this covers the entire range of high and low level project control.
Development: From Paper Records to ATEX Equipment
These technologies have developed at a very fast pace and we are constantly adapting to maximise the benefits it brings, to us at SCM, and our Clients too. Four years ago, we started using the ‘ecom’ supplied Getac V100 ruggedized laptops and deploying them to our in-house Surveyors – these were ATEX-certified basic Core 2 Duo equipment and were adequate but by no means high-spec. We then adopted the XploreTech IXC104 which is a tablet device typically seen in military use. This was more high-tech but still a little bulky. The Oil & Gas industry creates a very hands-on and labour-intensive environment, and carrying around a bulky laptop along with other essential equipment can be uncomfortable and time-consuming, reducing productivity. In 2014 and going into 2015, we are now using the XploreTech Bobcat’s running full Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Samsung Tab-Ex’s, with Android software. These tablets are much closer to consumer devices in both weight and specification while still fulfilling all technical and safety requirements.
We are currently porting the full mobile version of RISCm to the Android operating system to support the Samsung TabEx’s specifically. Over the last 18 months SCM has developed a series of strategic partnerships with ‘ecom’ and Spirit Data Capture enabling us to provide service and warrantee on this equipment when coupled with RISCm.
For a number of our Clients the opportunity to link hand-held equipment to the RISCm data tools for both immediate and on-site Inspection and Management is just too difficult to resist. The loop between planning maintenance work, implementation and reporting its progress and completion is now almost push-button, with a higher degree of traceability and accuracy than we have ever seen in the past.
At SCM, we see these devices becoming common-place for both on and offshore facilities within the next 18 to 24 months. With the advancement of ATEX-certified wireless and GSM networking, we anticipate ATEX handheld equipment becoming an essential part of the Oil & Gas Industry at almost every level and in every discipline.
More on the use of Local GSM networking equipment on and offshore in a future blog post.