With hazards ranging from vehicle collisions to explosions and fire, oil & gas companies employ a variety of tools to improve safety. Thanks to augmented reality, IoT and remote monitoring, production platforms are more than ever under surveillance.
This 18th issue of DirectIndustry e-magazine also explores the technical wizardry of oil rig construction enabling them to withstand extreme conditions. Board the world’s first ice-resistant oil platform, located in Russia. The Prirazlomnaya Platform can resist ice, corrosion and humidity to extract oil amid the Arctic floes.
With hazards ranging from vehicle collisions to explosions and fire, oil and gas companies employ different tools to improve safety.
Cooperation on safety issues transcends competition, says Chris Hawkes, safety director of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP).
As is true of any industrial...
Located in Russia, the Prirazlomnaya Platform is the first Arctic-class ice-resistant oil platform in the world, with an extraction capacity of 70 million barrels a year.
The platform can resist extreme conditions—ice, corrosion, humidity—and offers 90 days of autonomous operation in case of bad weather.
This infographic presents some of the major construction advantages that make this gigantic platform—its upper deck is as big as two football fields !—able to extract oil in the ice of the Arctic. Mouse over on the hotspot icons to know more about it.
When BMW decided to build a new all-electric production vehicle, they knew there was little point in creating a sustainable car unless they followed the same philosophy at every stage of process. To achieve this, they required the right facility.
A Sustainable Leap in Leipzig
Zero-emission cars often hide a dark...
Extracting the planet’s natural resources is becoming autonomous and smart to optimize cost-effectiveness.
More productive and efficient, safer and less environmentally damaging. Those are the four elements driving transformation of the mining industry through the introduction of new technology. Greg Smith is a General Manager at Hitachi Construction Machinery:
Smart mining is simply a terminology used to define product developments and mining process improvements that focus on enhancing operational efficiency and safety. In today’s economic climate, we must utilize technologies to operate more cost effectively and assist in enhancing the overall performance of both the machines and mining operations.
Future Market Insights projects the smart mining market to be worth US$13 billion by 2020.
Advanced communications infrastructure is the first smart piece of the puzzle. In the vast Sierra Gorda copper and molybdenum mines of Chile’s Atacama Desert, a Cisco Unified Wireless Network of ruggedized routers copes with extreme dryness and temperature changes at high altitude. WiFi reduces the number of arduous round-trips remote workers must make to the mine’s central office. Cisco claims that it’s saved 720 man-hours per month for field and construction engineers, and reduced both vehicle fuel expenses and employee fatigue.
Geofencing & Indoor Positioning
With WiFi in place, geofencing becomes possible, says Ophir Shabtay, Principal Engineer at Intel in Israel:
We can geofence around equipment so the miner can get a warning on their phone not to enter an area because there’s heavy machinery working, or because the air quality is not good.
The latter function uses a Bosch microclimate monitoring system, whose sensors measure humidity, sound, temperature and gas levels, relaying everything to a control center.
In a dangerous situation, a miner can send an alert to the control center asking for assistance.
The system can communicate with wearable devices, monitoring a miner’s heart rate and blood pressure. The same technology is being used in mines for accurate subsurface positioning.
The Underground Internet of Things
Courtesy of Atlas Copco
New connected devices are also changing mining techniques. At December’s IPSO Challenge in Silicon Valley, a team from the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden unveiled a smart rock bolt that creates an underground Internet of Things.
An everyday tool in mining used to shore ceilings and walls after blasting, traditional rock bolts are unreliable and often snap unexpectedly. Equipped with a strain sensor and electronics to calculate changes in bolt strain and vibrations, the smart rock bolts form a network that can link to the cloud via 4G, Wi-Fi or in wired mode, for constant safety monitoring. Hitachi plans to go further by embracing big data. Its ‘smart excavator’ project uses information from Internet of Things sensors in mines and big data analytics on the cloud to maximize energy efficiency, bucket payloads and optimal dig patterns.
Autonomous Control & 5G
Smart mining also offers remote control of machinery to protect both staff and equipment. Ericsson has been spearheading a project in Sweden to remotely control a 30-ton wheel loader from Volvo CE using super-fast 5G mobile broadband. Rio Tinto has plans for autonomous haulage, while Hitachi’s Autonomous Haulage System is scheduled for a 2017 launch.
As mining gets smarter one project at a time, the fully automated mine is close to becoming a reality.
At BAUMA 2016 in Munich, Bosch presented the operator’s cab of the future, Genius Cab, a post designed for maximum visibility and protection in difficult surroundings like construction sites. It not only received great attention, but also the Bauma innovation award in the Design category. DirectIndustry e-magazine talked to Johannes-Jörg Rüger, president of Bosch’s newly established Commercial Vehicle & Off-Road Unit.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: The Genius Cab is an innovative operator’s cab for construction machinery. What are its unique features?
Johannes-Jörg Rüger: The cab reflects the trends of electrification, automation, and connectivity with regard to construction sites. Operating data is analyzed in real time on a tablet display. The brain of the cab is a central computer that we call “body computer”, as it controls all sensors. This makes for less complex circuits that reduce error rates. It can also be customized to meet client requirements. The integrated ultrasonic sensor system for 360° vision reliably monitors the environment, even in low-light conditions. Displays replacing the side-view mirrors help the driver monitor the blind spots right behind him. Everything can be operated via the 7-inch display controlled by buttons or touchscreen.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How will life change for users of the new cab?
Johannes-Jörg Rüger: All the mentioned features improve operating safety, as do the ultrasonic and video sensors that monitor the machinery’s surroundings. Other elements, like the direct wiper drive, an optimized wiping device for snow, hail or rain, as well as the central joystick, improve intuitive handling and safety. This also boosts productivity by reducing failure rate. Safety and usability are further enhanced by the surround sensors and cameras.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Who developed the cabin?
Johannes-Jörg Rüger: A network of suppliers, as well as the Technical University in Dresden and the German Association for Construction, Environmental and Machine Technology were involved in the development. Fritzmeier assembled the prototype.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Will the next step be a cabin without an operator?
Johannes-Jörg Rüger: No, certainly not. There will, however, be more and more systems designed to assist the driver. The driver’s role will become scheduling work, while the vehicle carries out specific tasks automatically.
There are no limits for an engineer. This is what Kurt Köhler from IMKO thought when he started working on his latest invention. It led to the SONO-WZ, a handheld cement water analyzer for fresh concrete. SONO-WZ received the innovation award at Bauma 2016 in the Components category. DirectIndustry e-magazine talked to Kurt Köhler.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Why is it so important to determine water content in fresh concrete?
Kurt Köhler: It is important to guarantee the quality and longevity of concrete. Concrete construction, such as bridge pilings in saltwater, have to withstand all conditions and must be built with utmost accuracy. Fifteen years ago we developed sensors that could measure the moisture in cured concrete. They were used for over ten years on old bridges in the Netherlands that needed restoration. By then, we could already determine moisture content in cured concrete with 0.1 percent accuracy.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How did you get the idea to develop an analyzer for fresh concrete?
Kurt Köhler: While working in a laboratory on the determination of water content in fresh concrete, I realized that it takes half an hour with the usual method, called kiln drying. A sample is heated over an open gas oven with constant stirring for half an hour until all the water is gone. This requires a lot of time, staff and money, especially when every load of concrete needs to be tested.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does the SONO-WZ change that?
Kurt Köhler: It’s a handheld device based on our sensors that measure the water content of the fresh concrete within a minute. In the past, this was not possible with electronic sensors because the cement in fresh concrete leads to extremely high conductivity values. We didn’t know how to measure water content under these conditions. In 2009, I realized our technology might be able to measure the water content.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does the SONO-WZ work?
Kurt Köhler: It works based on time domain reflectometry. Sensors measure the propagation speed of an electromagnetic pulse. It was a huge challenge to make it work, and took us five to six years to design this product. It was always two steps forward, one step back. Now, the next step would be to get a DIN certification.
Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…