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Fracking Companies Track Iron via RFID-enabled App

Weir has already been applying RFID to its fracking equipment for servicing, but now it provides an app, along with hardware, to enable its oil and gas company customers to digitally track inventory and manage certificates linked to each asset.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 01, 2018

Global oil and gas pumps and equipment company Weir has expanded its RFID asset-management technology—designed to benefit its fracking customers—with an app, RFID tagging on its own products and those of competitors, and handheld RFID readers. Two oil and gas firms have piloted Weir's SPM RFID solution throughout the last year, and at least four other companies are now in the process of retrofitting their equipment to work with the system.

Since 2015, Weir has been tagging its products with RFID to improve visibility as they are received from customers for servicing. But more recently, the company has been looking for a way to incentivize its customers to use the tags for their own purposes. In that way, Weir could be sure the tags would remain on purchased equipment, and would thus be usable during the servicing process. The new solution includes Weir's SPM RFID mobile app for Android- and iOS-based devices that enables fracking companies to locate items on a site, and to add or retrieve certificates for each asset.

Weir's LJ Howell
When it comes to tracking inventory, companies are challenged with large equipment, spread across a worksite, that may currently be identified only by having an employee visually read an etched serial number on a label. That label may be covered in mud, or be pointed directly into the ground. Inventory tracking requires multiple employees: one to access and read off the serial number to a co-worker, and the latter to write that information down manually and later inputs the data into a computer system. At each of these steps, there is the potential for errors, explains LJ Howell, Weir's warranty and special projects manager for oil and gas. "The entire inventory process can be very cumbersome," he says.

Additionally, paper certificates for each item are stored in an office. If an inspector comes onsite and wants to see certificates for the equipment in use, staff members must then start looking through files. Any immediate failure to find a requested certificate can lead to downtime for that equipment.

Because of inventory-tracking challenges, it can be difficult to have up-to-date visibility into what equipment is onsite at any given time, and which items are actively being used. This means some equipment may be redundant, and could simply be costing the oil and gas company money without being used. In other cases, there could be a potential shortage that would cause problems as the fracking process takes place.

Weir designs and manufactures highly engineered pressure-pumping and -control products and services for the minerals, power, and oil and gas industries. That includes the irons used in fracking operations. The customers that buy its products use them while exploring new fracking opportunities and recovering oil and gas.

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