Technology is outpacing oil and gas in growth, but that’s good for the industries. In addition to the fact that processors, screens, casings and many other digital product elements rely on the oil and gas for manufacturing, software and mobile devices have the potential to innovate operations, boost efficiency and increase job safety.
Most companies utilize desktop software for bookkeeping, payroll and inventory, but some of the most useful yet overlooked software are applications for mobile devices. App stores don’t just have games and dating apps. There are hundreds of powerful apps for running businesses that can revolutionize oil and gas production and distribution. The bulk of operation costs come from out in the field processes. Leveraging mobile applications to track production, worker efficacy and equipment integrity will positively boost efficiency and lower overhead. Companies have reported a 10% reduction in costs by implementing software into operations. Everything from extraction to shipping can be managed from one device. With software designed to keep everything organized and on track there’s fewer opportunities for human error.
User experience optimization is at the forefront of software design, so just about anyone can be trained to utilize the apps. Nearly 80% of people in the U.S. own a smartphone, and as the younger generations become employees, they will have more experience with digital processes than with pen and paper. The handwritten processes take time and more training than an app that can walk the user through step-by-step. For example, inspections can be completed in half the time and requests for work orders can be processed immediately. Apps can calculate complex equations with just a touch of a button, providing managers with real-time analytics.
Additionally, everything can be stored on the device. Even if an inspector or manager is on a rig in the middle of the Gulf, any information collected can be locally stored and automatically transmitted once a network connection is made. The combination of decreasing human error while improving operations and production analysis times creates a smoother, more efficient revenue stream.
As technology expands, many people are leery of innovation due to a fear of robotics and AI taking their hard-earned jobs—mobile software is not a step in that direction. In fact, implementation of mobile apps secures jobs while cutting costs at the same time. Most importantly, the use of software can make high risk operations safer. Before someone begins operating heavy equipment or processing machines, they can be trained in a virtual world (much like those popular games available in apps stores). Training workers is costly, as are on-the-job accidents. While any process error or out of order maneuver could have tragic effects in the real world, virtual training programs allow for mistakes. Trainees can experiment and take risks, which provides the opportunity to see and live through failures without putting lives or equipment on the line. Virtual training and simulations will translate to on-the-job safety, detering equipment damage and preventing in-training injuries.
Mobile software is a tool that should be embraced by the oil and gas industry, not feared and postponed. Whether using out-of-the-box or fully customized software, mobile applications support processes in dynamic ways in the office and out in the field.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.