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RFID's Land of Opportunity: the Middle East

The region's oil and gas industry possesses a distinctive collection of traits that offer a phenomenal potential for RFID and RTLS technology adoption.
By Konrad Konarski
The oil facilities of the Middle East are fundamentally the same as those within the United States, Europe and other areas of the world. However, one thing about facilities in the Middle East—though this is slowly changing—is that a good portion of the oil-field equipment installed is not necessarily manufactured in-country, or otherwise anywhere within geographical proximity, but rather is imported from overseas manufactures. This makes document reconciliation and traceability more difficult. It is thus even more important to assure that the traceability of a part and its specification data be accurately maintained. RFID technology provides the ability to store product identification and specification data within tag memory.

A close-up view of the Middle East refinery utilizing RFID to improve MRO
The technology provides field staff members with the ability to seamlessly associate parts to facility locations. This data-rich system enables maintenance operations to use RFID technology to easily locate specific pieces of equipment, promptly reconcile quality certificates and maintenance records, and streamline actual inspection and overhaul steps, by enhancing the amount of information available to a field worker, and by providing this information promptly. Presently, locations in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman utilize RFID technology to support MRO activities across a variety of oil and gas facilities.

A Middle Eastern warehouse employing RFID forklift readers

The inventory management of facility-bound equipment and spare and servicing items is an essential task for oil and gas warehouses. Equipment originating from numerous suppliers must be efficiently received and stored. The control system built to manage the inventory needs to be able to accurately and promptly identify the equipment, reference and validate against appropriate purchase orders or requisitions for these items, put them away in a well-organized manner, and record their locations. In parallel, these same systems must be able to precisely and rapidly locate assets across a warehouse, as well as pick them and record their movements. A poor inventory-management process can lead to such problems as inventory discrepancies, shipping mistakes, excessive processing times and ineffective use of manpower.

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