Sensors and data monitoring help predict the future in oil rigs

Think Again automation application example: predictive maintenance avoids unplanned downtime and improves service offerings, among other benefits, for an oil rig equipment provider.

By Mark T. Hoske April 19, 2016

Smart applications of automation technologies decrease downtime, increase smarter service opportunities, and improve equipment designs. These were among benefits shared by an oil industry equipment builder in a presentation at the ARC Group Industry Forum, in February in Orlando, Fla. 

Predictive maintenance

Keith Holliday is president and CEO of Global Drilling Support, a manufacturer of top drives, the large electric-motor that powers oil rig drill bits. The company also repairs and recertifies competitors’ drives, so Holliday understands the high cost of unplanned downtime for the 200 hp to 1,500 hp units.

Equipment typically is taken apart after 5 years, but rebuilding sooner or later, based on actual wear rather than an average, saves considerable resources. Embedded sensors help ensure warranty claims are fair, letting the manufacturer know if a rig has been dropped. The new system uses a field agent, subscription service, cloud-based server with analytical software (GE equipment Insight Solution, powered by Predix, taking information from a Siemens PLC).

Choosing the right data set was important. "We didn’t want to boil the ocean and look at too much." A maintenance algorithm looked at key performance indicators (KPIs) for vibration, load on bit, shaft revolutions per minute (RPM), torque, temperature, pressure, and flow. 

"Customers now want data, but don’t know what to do with it." The smart application of automation technologies opens more opportunities for service contracts and better future designs based on analysis, Holliday said.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

Consider this

What automation projects could improve your metrics? Have you quantified those benefits in your proposals?

ONLINE extra

This online article about GDS provides additional information than what appeared in print. Link below to other automation applications providing benefits.

Original content can be found at Oil and Gas Engineering.

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.