In an increasingly digital world, paper logs may be a thing of the past. Telematics is used to track items such as machine location, maintenance needs, fuel consumption, and down time. Operators, vehicles, and equipment are tracked for speed, time, location, even employee breaks. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses radio waves to transfer data to identify objects. RFID tags are even used on individual pipe sections to monitor usage and stress, or used to send commands to tools.
Digital planning software tools are available that can help pipeline contractors plan a bore. The software takes data such as soil conditions, product type, drill information and more, and can provide a plan that calculates the bend radius, pipe stress, drill fluid needs, and other data. This information can be available in easily transferable electronic files.
Technology for pipeline contractors are helpful in locating where crews are, what's happening with equipment, and what's occurring onsite. GPS-equipped machines can be specifically located, and have been useful when equipment is stolen. Idle time can be monitored to help work crews know when it may be best to shut down equipment rather than letting it idle. Equipment maintenance monitoring has been helpful in ensuring problems are caught, diagnosed, and repaired efficiently, or to have a backup plan ready. Tracking equipment digitally has been important in ensuring little downtime. Pipeline project specifications often indicate if a certain amount of time not in operation is reached, the company is out.
Technology is important for pipeline jobsite productivity, maintenance needs and fuel consumption, and for managers to evaluate employees who can use these tools to work more optimally. This is necessary with tighter margins and deadlines in completing projects.
While technology is becoming more of a necessity for pipeline contractors, one of the challenges is working with different monitoring systems. Companies will need to continue to move toward collecting data on to a common platform for more efficiency and productivity.