If automation for you conjures up images of complexity along the lines of The Matrix or something, I have some good news. It doesn’t have to be that complicated.
As an example for me personally, I love looking at all the ways well-site automation can improve the bottom line and generally make life simpler. Or the way something simple like automating tank levels with alarms can actually save lives - all the possibilities are very exciting!
Even as an Engineer, I like things to be simple and easy sometimes. In fact, one of the beauties of our automation systems is that it can be as simple and direct as you want, or as far-reaching and comprehensive as you need.
For simplicity, let’s look at tank monitoring. Maybe right now your hard-earned oil production flows into a tank battery, where it waits for a truck to pump it out on its way to a pipeline or a refinery. Easy enough.
But if you’re relying on eyeballs to make sure it’s working right, you have some risks, which you’re no doubt aware of.
The most common issues are, first, that the pump could stop working, for a variety of reasons, costing you money in delayed production. If you’re waiting for a pumper to discover this fact, that well might be down for a day or more before you know to send anyone out to fix the issue.
Second, and really worse, is that for some reason the trucking company is delayed and doesn’t make the scheduled pick up. Then you run the risk of the tanks overflowing. Now you have two problems—you’re losing the use of that production (forever, this time) and you’re creating a hazardous spill.
All this, when a basic tank level monitor would’ve let you prevent everything.
We can set the system to alert you in several ways. If your levels haven’t changed in a certain amount of time—a few hours, for example—it’s likely that the well has stopped flowing. An alert will tell you to have someone go out to check on it, and get production flowing before you’ve lost too much time.
Second, we can set alarms at certain fill levels. For example, when the tanks reach, say, three-fourths full, you can receive a preliminary alert. This will give you time to call the trucker and find out what the schedule will be.
Then when the tank reaches its limit, you can receive another alert—and the alert can be tied into a cutoff switch for the well. That way, it’ll shut off automatically before a spill happens.
With this tank alert you can also cut back on drive time—your pumper no longer has to check the well every day. So it not only prevents losses, it saves money off the top. Not bad for a simple tank monitor and an alert system, right?
It goes back to; I love making the big systems work, but, I can certainly appreciate simplicity too.