Unfortunately, asset tracking and management is often an archaic process for both oil and gas operators and providers alike. Spreadsheets run rampant and often lead to communication breakdowns, lost time, and wasted costs.
In our recent post, How Oil & Gas Operators Can Improve Rental Management, we looked at the example of an operator trying to coordinate rental equipment and owned equipment across dozens of different sites and yards. At one of the sites, the operator rented a piece of equipment and didn’t properly track what site it went to. Which resulted in the rental equipment being used, put to the back of the site, then forgotten for weeks. Finally, someone noticed that it's a piece of rental equipment (instead of owned) and called to have it picked up. Now, the operator gets charged for weeks of idle time.
While this is just one example, it illustrates how improper management of assets can easily lead to miscommunication, financial losses, and so much more. So, how do you create an efficient asset management process?
Types of Asset Tracking
Let’s start with the types of asset tracking that are available:
Spreadsheets - Manually entering and updating asset information and location in a spreadsheet.
Barcodes - Unique barcodes are attached to each asset and scanned to electronically update a spreadsheet.
RFID - Radio-frequency identification or RFID devices attached to the asset that allows electronic updates and tracking from some distance.
GPS - Active GPS tracking is put on to each asset and can be tracked in real-time from anywhere.
Software - Creating a virtual copy of your assets (aka digital twin) to track asset location and information.
How to Pick the Best Type of Tracking
Every method of tracking assets has pros and cons, but ultimately narrowing down what method (or methods) works best for your company's needs will put you on the best track for creating an efficient asset management process. Overall, you need to find what works for your company from a logistic and cost standpoint.
For example, if you are a small operation with only a handful of owned assets, it may be best to use a barcode system that can be scanned with a mobile device and update spreadsheets. You may not mind the lower visibility of your site or that you have to manually scan the equipment because the price point is where you need it to be.
But if you have rental and owned equipment across dozens of sites and yards, barcodes may not cut it anymore. You need to have accurate visibility that allows you to quickly view what equipment is where to help solve problems and minimize waste. Software and/or RFID/GPS tracking may be the only way to reach the visibility needed for your level of operations.
What to Avoid
No matter what method you choose that works best for your company, there are a couple of things to avoid in your asset management process:
Not all methods of asset tracking can be done in real-time, but the goal is to get the most accurate view possible. GPS tracking gives a live view into where owned assets are in a given moment. With software, you have the ability to track rental equipment in addition to the equipment you own.
But for other methods of asset management to be successful, you need rigid processes in place to keep assets as up-to-date as possible.
Manual Data Entry
As a general rule, avoid data entry wherever possible. When humans need to manually input data, as is necessary for the spreadsheet method of asset management, there are bound to be mistakes. Creating a process that uses technology to update or track assets eliminates errors and prevents these costly mistakes from happening.
Sacrificing Usability for Functionality
Technology is revolutionizing how work is done in the industrial markets. And while implementing technology that can automate manual tasks and prevent mistakes is amazing, there is another critical facet when it comes to a successful technology.
A good technology solution needs to provide you with convenience—meaning that it’s a simple solution for a task or process you’re already doing. And the solution also needs to provide comfort—meaning it’s intuitive and easy-to-use for any “skill” level, whether you’re the first in line for the new iPhone or proudly rocking a flip phone.
As Jonathan Scheiner, CEO of Hitched, writes in the article The Two Keys to Powerful Industrial Technology: Convenience and Comfort:
“When these two aspects are ignored, it results in technology that is counterintuitive, is hard to use, and worst of all, wastes time. The whole point of implementing tech is to save time, offload tasks, and have less frustration throughout your workday. If the technology isn't made with convenience and comfort in mind, it diminishes the entire value of the technology AND takes time and energy away from where it's really needed.
Tech made correctly truly makes our work lives easier and frees up the time and energy to refocus it in the right places.”
Putting it All Together
By evaluating your options, establishing your processes, and choosing the best solution for your company, you’ll be ready to move forward with an amazing asset management process. And in no time, your new streamlined and efficient process will improve your operations, help you avoid costly mistakes, and protect your site’s bottom line.