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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.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 09, 2013Equipment built for use in oil wells is not only expensive, but often includes many potentially hazardous materials. As such, it must be closely monitored, both on a manufacturer's site and as it leaves the plant, bound for an end user. FMC Technologies, a Scotland-based manufacturer of equipment for the energy industry, is employing an AeroScout real-time location system (RTLS) installed by Boston Networks, a U.K.-based Wi-Fi network provider. FMC Technologies is using the system to identify where each piece of equipment is located as it is being assembled, as well as when that item is shipped to an end user, and when it is later returned for refurbishing. That information provides an automated record for regulators, while also helping the company ensure that its operations run efficiently.

The installation occurred at FMC Technologies' 213,000-square-foot Dunfermline Subsea facility, including its entire building and warehousing areas, according to Mark Gallant, AeroScout's VP of industrial marketing.

AeroScout's Mark Gallant
FMC Technologies builds petrochemical wellhead devices used to cap oil pipes for undersea oil wells. The devices are large—in some cases, the size of a small car. The Dunfermline facility assembles the equipment and then ships the items to energy companies. Throughout that process, the firm tracks each piece's location and status—not just to ensure that every item is easy to locate within the large warehouse and assembly space, but also to help the company comply with safety-based regulatory and statutory requirements regarding where objects are moved or stored, and for how long. Once the oil-drilling project is complete, the equipment is returned to the Dunfermline site, where it is refurbished prior to being shipped out for reuse.

Until the RTLS technology's installation in mid-2011, FMC Technologies tracked the location of equipment manually. Now, the company automatically tracks the department in which each asset is located, via a combination of its existing Wi-Fi nodes and AeroScout exciters, in order to pinpoint when a tagged item moves through a chokepoint from one department to another—such as in the paint shop or finished goods section.

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