I had to wonder what a full-sized oilfield pump jack was doing in a Rockwell Automation trade show exhibit focused on networking and software. I mean, I hear Texans will drill anywhere, but in the middle of the George R. Brown convention center?
“ConnectedProduction is to local equipment installations what The Connected Enterprise is to the overall business: a system for gathering data, analyzing it, and turning it into actionable information where and when it’s needed,” explained Marcus Toffolo, global business manager, oil and gas, Rockwell Automation. I chewed on that bite of word salad as Toffolo began our tour of the section of The Connected Enterprise (TCE) Industries Pavilion devoted to process industries at Automation Fair this week in Houston.
“Food and beverage, chemical, and oil and gas industries must meet demand, quality and safety requirements,” Toffolo said. “Oil and gas prices have driven the need to be more competitive, to lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Then there’s the aging workforce, so it’s not all about cost, we also need to do more with fewer people.”
For ConnectedProduction, Rockwell Automation brings many systems and solutions together. The equipment may be disparate in type and location, and a mix of new and brownfield. “We have the organizational strength, from intelligent power and PlantPAx (DCS) to motor control centers and OEM skids, to bring information from equipment together and reduce costs in any size plant or installation,” Toffolo said. “This capability is scalable from a single smart drive to an entire production facility.”
ConnectedProduction in the field
For example, a wellhead or oilfield compressor can be a smart asset. With intelligence at the edge, operators can control a motor, reduce energy consumption, or limit a temperature rise. They can control locally, and the asset can connect to the enterprise so operations can be monitored and optimized at higher levels.
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The asset may not be on a SCADA system or even have a cellular connection, so local and edge analytics are important. Then data can be contextualized, and the critical information can be sent on up.
“Here, we have a typical piece of oilfield equipment, a pump jack,” said Toffolo, gesturing at the aforementioned hulk of steel. “See the QR code on the pump arm? A mobile technician can drive into Bluetooth range, scan that code and download the operating data from the jack. It may be minus 30 degrees outside—he doesn’t have to get out of the truck. There may be maintenance to be done, or a work order associated with that code. He can download that, as well as the instructions. “
The data will have information about the well productivity, which goes up to the enterprise system and to a subject matter expert (SME) where it will be combined with information from the other 50 wells in the field and used to determine water/oil ratios, choke settings, strokes, and injections to optimize the group.
Moving on, we come to an OptiLift NF natural gas flow controller, a package solution that can be connected, but is also self-sufficient, with an HMI for local control. If communications are unavailable or go down, it stores time-stamped data, then backfills the records on reconnection. “Automatic data collection replaces chart recorders and clipboards,” Toffolo said. “It can upload to mobile devices that move the data up when they return to a cellular or WiFi network—complete data, with no transcription errors.
“Imagine that quality of data across hundreds of assets, thousands of times, with no need for data cleaning.”
Next, we visit an OptiLift RPC rod pump controller. This is a “self-declaring asset,” said Toffolo. On connection and power-up, it auto-identifies, asks to be connected to the production system, and offers its setpoints, ranges and variables. “You just give it a name, and it’s on the system, automatically connected to ERP and SAP asset management systems, ready for maintenance and work order generation, and to accept optimization instructions.”
Then we stopped by an FW Murphy compressor control panel, “another smart asset,” Toffolo said. We can monitor it, see how it’s operating—temperatures, pressures, incipient surge—and if indicated, modify the well behavior remotely to prevent a problem. “If needed, we might slow production a bit to avoid a trip,” Toffolo said.
A nearby UMC lease automatic custody transfer (LACT) metering skid monitors flows, temperatures, pressures and compositions to determine dollar values based on quality. “This information also flows back through ConnectedProduction, where the company can allocate production to particular wells, know sand and gas ratios, and optimize the reservoir at the cloud level,” Toffolo said.
Five minutes, seven clicks
Finally, we see a configuration, monitoring and control demonstration, where Srikanth Mashetty, engineering manager, Digital Oilfield Solutions, Rockwell Automation, showed how SMEs, operators and technicians can collaborate across responsibilities.
As he talks, a new smart asset is powered on and pops up on the screen. It could be anything, and this time it’s a wellhead. Mashetty acknowledges it with a click, and it describes itself as a data model in AssetPoint. Whether there are 50 or 800, it knows its tags, as well as its location, both physically and in the control hierarchy. Mashetty gives it its name, and it’s automatically in the ERP, analytics and asset management systems, giving trending, displays and alarms. Five minutes, seven clicks, and one data entry.
“In the past, that would have taken at least half an hour, and as long as several weeks,” said Toffolo.
On a nearby screen, Schlumberger software shows the new well automatically added to a map of an existing field, where Riku Vilkki, BDMS solution champion, Schlumberger Information Solutions, describes how he can schedule it and use its trending and history for field performance optimization.
The tour has shown just one example, in one industry, of how ConnectedProduction and The Connected Enterprise draw on the depth of Rockwell Automation and partner technologies to enable OEMs and end users to “collect data, perform analytics where they’re needed, and present the results to the right person,” said Elizabeth Parkinson, director, market development, The Connected Enterprise, Rockwell Automation. Alongside the data flows, collaboration tools like the FactoryTalk TeamOne app allow operators and technicians to “phone a friend”—an SME—to work together, share information and solve problems quickly and efficiently.