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RFID Saves Oil Companies Time and Money

Marine transportation and logistics firm Edison Chouest Offshore is using RFID hardware from Mojix and Omni-ID to streamline the delivery of equipment and supplies to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
By Claire Swedberg
The eNodes act as exciters, transmitting ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RF signals to the Omni-ID tags, which send their unique ID number to the STAR reader. The interrogator then forwards that data to ECO's back-end system, explains Robert Kowalik, Mojix's VP of sales. Mojix software, he notes, uses algorithms to determine the tag's location, as well as the direction in which that tag is moving as it is loaded or unloaded from the vessel. The system then sends that information to the Triton software.

Cargo is brought to one of two locations by truck. If a particular truck is delivering cargo destined for one specific oil-drilling platform customer, that vehicle backs directly into the staging area of the slip dedicated to the client in question. If a truck's cargo is intended for several customers, it unloads the shipment at the lay-down yard.

Robert Kowalik, Mojix’s VP of sales
In either case, as cargo is removed from trucks, C-Logistics workers attach the RFID tags to equipment or cartons containing supplies. The ID number of each tag is then associated with data regarding the object being tagged, or the contents of a box or container, by scanning or visually reading the bar code or alphanumeric serial number applied by the products' suppliers. The products are then taken from the truck unloading slip or lay-down yard and moved into the warehouse facility, where RFID interrogators at the door read the tags, and their location and status are updated in the back-end system. Some larger items, however, remain in storage in the lay-down yard.

Prior to loading a vessel, workers pull supplies and equipment from storage in the warehouse or lay-down yard and transport them to a staging area near the vessel's slip. A warehouse employee can use a handheld computer equipped with a PCMCIA card RFID interrogator, to read tags at a distance of 20 feet or less, thereby verifying what he or she is pulling.

When the items are loaded onto a supply vessel (by means of the overhead derrick, in the case of large equipment), the Mojix system again reads the tags, verifies that the items are being moved onto the correct vessel, and sends that information to the Triton software, which updates the order's status. The software then links each ID number with the items on a loading manifest, and issues an alert if an incorrect item is being loaded onto the vessel. It can also indicate when an object is missing from a load that has been placed on that vessel.

"This will save oil companies time—and, therefore, money—by getting equipment out to them right away," Vizier states. What's more, he says, it can also reduce the risk of errors, such as a piece of equipment not being loaded onto a vessel, and thereby stalling oil production on the offshore platform. It will also help C-Logistics manage the shipping and return of rental equipment, which can cost an oil-drilling customer $25,000 to $125,000 per day in rental fees.

The next phase, Kowalik says, will be to install eNodes in the lay-down yard, where large pieces of equipment remain in storage before being shipped to offshore rigs. Here, he explains, Mojix will set up eNodes, with the level of granularity varying according to ECO's needs in different areas of the yard. According to Kowalik, that is expected to be accomplished in the second quarter of this year.

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