May 28, 2017
The upstream Oil & Gas sector, which includes crude oil and liquid natural gas exploration and production, is crucial to the economies of many nations. This sector is a prime example where the age-old cliché of risk versus reward is very applicable, and with the increase in global demand over time, exploration has ventured into areas that present even greater hazards. Many regulations have been implemented to reduce the risks, and owners continuously expend significant resources for the safety of their assets, both human and material.
Technologies that perform constant monitoring of assets have been utilized for some time, with a view to enable rapid response to any signs of danger, as the safety and security of assets is not optional but paramount to the success of an organization. More recently, Active RFID technology has been gaining recognition as a superior tool that enables real-time monitoring of personnel and assets. It has also emerged as vital tool to monitor evacuation during emergencies. Unlike passive RFID, a technology that has been much more pervasive and has therefore become synonymous with the term “RFID” is active RFID. It offers much more utility due to several factors. Probably the most significant fact is that active tags have their own built-in power source, enabling them to transmit data over greater distances; and possessing embedded intelligence to enable pre-programmed decisions-to-be-made based on the rules and stimulus received from the built-in sensors. Recent active RFID technologies have augmented its long-range capabilities with proximity detection that rivals that of passive RFID with respect to reliability of detection. The combination of these two tag acquisition methods permits functionality that has never been possible before – that of real time location and tracking using its long range capabilities and reliable instantaneous detection at choke points using proximity detection while the active tag is carried anywhere on a person or object, even if concealed. In addition, active RFID systems and specifically those operating in the 433MHz UHF frequency band operate very well and with very little degradation in RF hostile environments such as dense concrete and metallic structures. These unique active RFID properties can be exploited to provide significant benefits for Oil & Gas facilities in many different ways, whether to satisfy compliance requirements for safety, or enhance operational efficiencies to maximize return on investment. Some of the prominent applications of the technology are:
- Personnel Accountability – the ability to accurately determine where human resources are located during an emergency or disaster event so as to effectively conduct evacuation activities and account for personnel, as well as automatically identify personnel at mustering locations.
- Personnel Duress – providing the ability for personnel to send panic alarms using active RFID badges equipped with buttons specially designed to summon assistance.
- Fall Detection – the ability to automatically send notifications that a tagged person or object has fallen.
- Monitoring Personnel Competency – detecting tagged personnel entering highly hazardous zones to ensure that they are competent, certified, and were appropriately equipped and authorized before entering such areas.
- Dwell time within hazardous areas – monitoring the amount of time personnel spend within a hazardous environment to ensure ‘safe’ limits are not exceeded.
- Process analysis and enhancements – studying personnel and equipment movements and utilization to determine changes to affect positive process improvements.
- Monitoring safety equipment – ensuring that adequate critical emergency equipment is in place and available; creating warnings if they fall below required limits.
- Equipment tracking – monitoring equipment movement and utilization within zones for accounting purposes.
- Equipment location – rapidly locate critical equipment when required, saving time and ensuring timely execution of scheduled activities.
- Equipment loss prevention – detecting unauthorized movements of equipment and other assets to prevent their loss.
- Real-time inventory visibility – having constant and real-time awareness of all valuable assets within a facility, as well as monitoring their movement from one location to another.
GuardRFID’s RFID platform operates in the 433MHz frequency band and has proven to deliver attributes that enable all the primary functionality described above, and more. GuardRFID offers the smallest and lowest profile tags available, with the longest battery lives, and these tags comply with IECEx ratings, allowing for deployment within Zone o hazardous environments. GuardRFID’s Argus AllGuard platform offers multiple functionality, all operating under a single infrastructure. For the Oil & gas sector, these include Evacuation Monitoring and Personnel Accountability, Personnel Duress and Safety, and Asset Tracking and Loss Prevention. The platform is scalable and can monitor and manage multiple disparate sites from a single centralized location. Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as an environment in which “things”, whether these are people or objects, are equipped with unique identifiers that are connected together using a network such that they can exchange data, whether it is for monitoring or control purposes, without the need for human intervention. GuardRFID is part of the global IoT movement by providing unique identifiers for monitoring, security and safety of people and objects.