Wellhead Manufacturer Tracks Products Via RTLS
A Wi-Fi-based AeroScout RFID solution, installed by Boston Networks, allows FMC Technologies to track the location and, thus, the status of each piece of equipment as it is assembled or serviced.
While a product is being assembled, an AeroScout T2 tag is permanently attached to that item, containing a unique ID number that it transmits to the Wi-Fi nodes. That data is received by AeroScout's MobileView software, residing on FMC Technologies' back-end system, which determines each asset's location based on the nodes receiving that transmission. As the tag passes an exciter, the exciter's own ID is received by the tag, which forwards the locator's ID, along with its own, to the back-end system, thereby indicating that a tag has entered a more specific location—typically, the egress between two departments.
Once an asset is returned by an oil-well operator for servicing, the system automatically reads its tag ID number once more. That number is linked to the item's assembly history, as well as the time at which it was shipped out and the location to which it had been sent. As that piece of equipment proceeds through any restorative servicing, its movements are monitored by the MobileView software, and that information is stored for viewing by FMC Technologies' management.
In the event that an item's tag signal is no longer detected, or if that asset falls out of the expected series of procedures, MobileView can issue an alert to the plant's managers, enabling them to rectify the problem. FMC Technologies can also provide data regarding each piece of equipment to regulatory groups or inspectors, if so requested. Prior to the AeroScout system's installation, Gallant says, FMC Technologies had to access manual reports about equipment assembly and servicing, which tended to be a time-consuming process.
By deploying the RTLS solution, FMC Technologies is able not only to provide inspectors with regulatory compliance reporting, but also to increase the productivity of its assembly and servicing operations, by knowing exactly where every item is located, which processes have been completed for that asset, and when each task was performed. The company is currently evaluating the AeroScout system at some of its other 30 production facilities worldwide, though details about those plans are not yet available. Boston Networks and FMC Technologies have declined to be interviewed for this story.
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