McDermott Sees Gains From RFID Tracking in Indonesia
The oil and gas construction company tested the use of RFID to monitor and track pipes being fabricated onsite, with preliminary results showing that the technology reduces the labor required to track inventory, while improving work-in-progress visibility.
At present, between 4,500 and 5,000 pipes have been tagged with two RFID labels apiece—one on each end. The environment is rough, Smith says, adding that no single tag could survive the entire assembly process. "Initially, we tested using hanging tags, but preference was to attach tag directly to pipe," he explains. "We investigated using substrates, but available materials were limited." Smith's RFID development group initially utilized door insulation foam and yoga mats procured at a local hardware store. "We tested over a dozen material types until we found one that was workable."
The pipes' tags can be read upon entering each workstation or within the laydown yard, via the GPS-enabled handhelds, offering operations personnel a view into each pipe's location along the fabrication process, as well as while being stored in the yard. "The system provides visibility on the shop floor and laydown areas for status and location," Smith states.
During the time of the pilot, Smith says, the shop experienced an estimated overall process productivity improvement of 7.2 percent, based on improved visibility into work-in-progress and items stored within the laydown yard. Altogether, he notes, the system hardware and software cost less than $60,000.
Smith described the pilot at RFID Journal LIVE!, held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla., where he noted that McDermott is still using RFID to track pipe spools. Pipes are scanned upon entering or leaving the laydown yard, and employees can conduct inventory scans using a handheld reader. He says he hopes to test the system at another location, but that he is first awaiting management's response to the Indonesian pilot.
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