Tool Tracking Problems Solved
Written by Wynn Ponder
How to Wake up from the Tool Tracking Nightmare
The energy industry has been plagued by tool tracking problems for as long as there have been oil drilling rigs, natural gas refineries, and electrical transmission lines. Even with the recent proliferation of wind energy services, the same costly challenges exist, and advances in tool tracking technology have been slow in coming.
Though horrendously expensive, the problems appear simple on the surface: astronomical tool shrinkage, ridiculously long wait times for tool service and replacement, operator abuse, and poor calibration and maintenance management. Only through recent advances in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, combined with the widespread availability of wireless Internet, has progress been made.
RFID to the rescue
With so many different workers sharing tools in the field (far from supervisory oversight), shrinkage has always been rampant. So how do you make employees accountable for the tools they use? Answer: radio frequency identification tags. Tiny RFID tags identify both tools and the employees who check them out, taking all the guess work out of tool inventory control, even in the field.
The portable tool crib
Specially outfitted shipping containers act as portable tool cribs to provide onsite inventory of spare hydraulic wrenches, pumps, hand tools, etc. When an employee enters the crib and removes a tool from a bin, automated bin scales record the inventory reduction. When the employee leaves the crib, his personal RFID tag triggers the system to finalize the tool's transfer into his possession, and a camera automatically snaps a photo to verify his identity. All transactions are recorded by web based tool tracking software that can be reviewed by supervisors anywhere in the world.
When the employee takes the tool to his truck--a well equipped mobile workshop--he scans the tool into inventory with a portable RFID reader. He can also verify on-board inventory of other tools he'll need at the work site and verify the maintenance and calibration of every piece of equipment.
Both the employee and his supervisors receive proactive notifications of coming maintenance and calibration dates via Internet, anywhere in the world. When tools need to be replaced or serviced, inventory control personnel receive automated updates by email. The tool tracking software also works seamlessly with most enterprise asset management programs for fully automated inventory control.
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The preventative maintenance software component of these systems, taken alone, can be a lifesaver by preventing breakdowns. With the availability of redundant inventory onsite, wait times for replacement tools are reduced from months to minutes.
Even without the need for portable tool cribs and field vehicles, elements of these new tool tracking systems will find use in permanent installations like refineries and manufacturing facilities. Any operation that's currently losing money from downtime, calibration and shrinkage can benefit from this new generation of tool tracking solutions.
Wynn Ponder is a freelance writer and managing editor of the Choctaw Tool Tracking Blog.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.