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Cotemar Uses RTLS to Manage Safety, Supplies for Offshore Oil Workers

The company is employing AeroScout Wi-Fi RFID tags to track the whereabouts of personnel and visitors on each of four offshore platforms that serve as floating hotels for PEMEX employees working on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 09, 2011For the past three years, Mexican oil-industry maintenance and transportation company Cotemar has been utilizing a real-time location system (RTLS) on four offshore platforms that serve as living quarters for employees working on oil rigs located in the Gulf of Mexico, to identify which personnel are aboard each platform and the services they are using, without requiring the staff to check in or out. With that information, the company is able to know its employees' locations in the event of an emergency, as well as gain information regarding the number of meals they've eaten and the laundry services they've utilized, thereby enabling Cotemar to more efficiently provide supplies to each of the four flotels (floating hotels). Based on that success, the firm plans to expand the system to include the mustering of personnel on the platforms in the event of an evacuation, says Pedro Salguero, Cotemar's chief of IT, who described the RTLS solution last month during a presentation at RFID Journal LIVE! Latin America 2012.

Cotemar uses AeroScout RTLS Wi-Fi-based battery-operated 2.4 GHz tags, which transmit their ID numbers to Wi-Fi nodes throughout each of the four flotels. The tags are worn by all staff members and visitors, enabling the company to know who has boarded or left a particular platform. Although no significant emergencies have been reported on any of the platforms since the system went live almost four years ago, if something were to occur, the company would now have real-time information regarding who was or was not on that flotel.

Thanks to an AeroScout Wi-Fi RFID tag wore on a lanyard by each worker, Cotemar can track visits to a flotel's dining room.

Cotemar provides marine services to PEMEX, the second largest public oil company in the world. These services include the transportation of personnel to and from the flotels, as well as food and laundry on board. In addition, the firm is responsible for providing records regarding the transport of workers to and from each flotel.

"The main issue is knowing who is in and who is out," Salguero says. Typically, 200 workers change shifts on a daily basis, with as many as 500 people on each platform at any given time. Personnel come and go through three routes—by ship, via helicopter or walking down the gangways connecting the living quarters and oil rigs. Prior to the AeroScout solution's implementation, staff members and visitors wore bar-coded badges that would be scanned as each person checked in at the platform, and again when that individual left. If someone forgot to check in or have the badge's bar code scanned, there would be no record that he or she was on the platform. The system could create queues in which personnel had to await their turn to check in or out. Moreover, bar-coded badges were often damaged in the rugged offshore environment—in which the average temperature is approximately 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity is around 80 percent—and thus could not be read.

Those bar-coded badges have been replaced with AeroScout T-2 tags that employees wear around the neck on a lanyard, explains Ricardo C. Berrios, AeroScout's VP and general manager for Latin America.

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