The Benefits of Mobile Data Collection to Oil and Gas Companies

By Devon Drennan on February 23, 2014

One of the industries that I talk often with about mobile data collection is oil and gas. Whether large or small, companies involved with the extraction, transportation, and production of these materials have struggled for years with the challenges associated with paper forms. While these forms have been crucial in the past to operations, today, they don’t stand a chance against mobile data collection.

Photo credit: crawfish head via photopin cc

Accurate Data in Real Time

The benefits of mobile data collection for oil and gas can be seen from the very beginning of production. With a volatile market, it’s crucial to know how much your rigs are producing on a daily or even hourly basis. Only then can you decide whether to increase or decrease your production. Your field workforce might not see the difference between 4.1 and 4.2, but accuracy and timeliness is crucial to your decision making.

Yet the nature of paper forms makes it difficult for your remote field workers to give you accurate information in real-time. Out on an oil rig, paper forms are cumbersome and susceptible to damage from the elements. In fact, many workers will wait until the end of the day to fill out their forms. Unless they have a photographic memory, your workers cannot accurately recall all the necessary information nor provide it in a timely manner.

Worse, these forms take precious time away from the work they need to do in a given day. Paper forms can take up to two hours a day to fill out. This interrupts the flow of work. With fragile paper, workers also have to be careful not to smudge or damage paper. It’s easy to see why many workers would want to wait until the end of the day to fill these out.

Mobile data collection will help remove pain points for both management and the field staff. The office will enjoy more accurate data within mobile app calculations, as well as photo capture, gps positioning, and real-time access to data. All necessary data entry fields can be required, forcing the user to fill them out before submitting the form. Safe from the dangers of an oil smudge, messy handwriting, or getting lost in the office, the data goes straight from a mobile device to the cloud and then can be downloaded directly into company systems.

Mobile workers will enjoy an easier system. It’s easy to carry: smartphones are small enough to fit inside their pockets. With drop-downs and checkboxes, mobile capture can take them a fraction of time that paper did. This allows your workers to get more done, and spend less time trying to write out their information neatly, not to mention the process of re-entering the data into company computer systems.

Real Time Health and Safety Reporting

Your workers deserve the best in health and safety. Photo credit: Jaimito Cartero via photopin cc

More than getting the best information, switching to mobile data collection can be crucial to the safety and health of oil and gas workers. With real-time access to data, you can repair equipment and prevent injuries with faster turnaround times. When an incident does occur, your workers can call 911 and start to fill out reports in real-time, not hours later. Going mobile will ensure that your workers are protected, no matter where they are.

While collecting and sharing data with mobile apps can be easy, you can also ensure that the data is secure. From HIPAA level restrictions, to restricted access to the files, you can limit who sees what, and who can share that data onwards. While you want to collect more data, you also want to ensure that it is safe as well.

In a business of rising costs and increasing mechanization, streamlining your processes can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per employee. Oil and gas companies big and small are starting to take notice of mobile data collection. 

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