Verifications, calibrations, and meter provings are not exciting, but they are a vital part of every measurement program. The measurement technician’s job is to get them done accurately, safely, and on schedule, while properly documenting the results.
But, the question is, does your field measurement software work for you or against you in the field? The answer should be that your field measurement software is aiding your work, but, as we know, this isn’t always the case.
While the right technology can be immensely helpful, technology that is designed for the office can be difficult to utilize in the field, especially when faced with additional pressures from the corporate office. You need tools designed for field use. You need an oil and gas field operations platform that should be an integral part of the measurement program. Here’s how software should fit in:
- Training in the fundamentals of measurement to build understanding and competencies in what to do when testing.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that define what tests should be performed, and how to do them safely and repeatedly.
- A set of software tools that not only includes calibration devices and standards, but also a software platform that helps you manage the schedule, capture the results, and keep the office informed.
When the field operations software platform is integrated with other key aspects of the measurement program, then your team capabilities will increase and you will grow in confidence to use tools in a productive way, not an inhibitive way.
Make Your Software Tools Work For You, Not Against You
Remember the old way of doing work? Testing documentation was previously completed with paper forms. You drove the same meter route each month, tested every meter you came to, scribbled down the test results on a form, and the form was later (sometimes much later) turned in to the office. Maybe someone in the office took a look at each form before they were filed away — until it was time for an audit…then the panic started as you tried to pull all the pieces together.
In today’s computerized, digital world, those filing cabinets filled with calibration and test reports are a thing of the past. Overall, it’s a good thing. But, we know there are challenges with today’s technology because of the wide assortment of field measurement software tools that management has put into the hands of field measurement technicians.
Your field operations software should be a partner that helps you get the job done, not a necessary burden that slows you down. Unfortunately, what we have found is that there are a multitude of issues that result from field techs being asked to use the wrong software, or — even worse — multiple software apps to document tasks.
- Some specialized software works with a single brand\type of flow computer, while some software is more generic.
- Some software is used only for documenting values, while some software is capable of advanced functions, such as the speed of sound calculation, trend analysis, and fluid property calculations.
- Some software includes scheduling capabilities — with schedules pushed from the corporate level — while other software allows the user to modify and adjust their own schedules.
- Some software loads data directly into a corporate measurement software database, while some software generates a file that the tech must then email to the end-user.
- Some software is designed to work without connectivity, while others require Internet access and/or high-speed data to function.
There are so many available choices, and rarely is the field measurement tech involved in selecting the software tool that they will be expected to use day-in, day-out for years to come.
All too often, corporate decision-makers select a tool — or a package of tools — that may have tremendous capabilities, but the toolset is too complicated, inflexible, or time-consuming when actually used in the field. When this happens, the productivity and morale of the field technician can be dramatically reduced. We understand your pain!
Common Issues With General Oil and Gas Field Software
Do any of these challenges sound like something you have experienced in the field?
– The time to complete tasks can greatly increase if the tools are too complex or too difficult to navigate. For example, doubling the time to complete a meter verification is very common.
– Generic software forms can lead to sections being inadvertently skipped, data being entered in the wrong place, or similar errors.
– Complex software requires lots of training time. Then, re-training may be required for infrequently performed tasks.
– Complexity increases the likelihood of data entry mistakes.
– Inflexible scheduling tools can leave the end-user with massive task lists that may not be relevant. Or, a task can be missed if schedules are not easily modified or added.
– The validity of the data gathered may become compromised if the complexity results in user frustration and lack of compliance.
– In the worst cases, techs are often forced to write down the results in the field, then go back to the office or home and enter data into the software. The time between performing the work and recording the work often leads to missing information.
All too often, the latest and greatest software tools end up significantly increasing the time it takes to complete each task. When you multiply the increased time for each meter verification, calibration, or proving by the number of tests that a tech needs to complete over the course of a month, it’s not uncommon to force techs into working longer hours in an attempt to stay on schedule. Overtime increases, or worse, more people are needed to do the same job, creating inefficiencies.
The Solution for Field Measurement Software
Whether you are a field technician driving the same route every day or a measurement supervisor looking to optimize your team’s efficiency, here are the keys to matching the needs of the field tech to the software tool being provided.
- Ease of use and speed to perform the most frequent tasks should be the focus of the selection process.
- The techs doing the work need a tool that helps them achieve consistency, which leads to accuracy.
- If your measurement needs are primarily to load trucks, witness meter tests/proves performed by others, capture density and S&W results, and manage analysis data, then a tool that excels in swift data entry is likely the answer.
- Don’t burden every tech every day with complex functionality that may only be needed a few times per year.
If you have questions or want to set up a discovery call to learn more about Muddy Boots, call us at 281-598-7100 to speak with EnerSys General Manager Ross Adams or VP of Business Development Dale Schafer. You can also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our website contact form.
Our tools provide a system to capture “what was done.” This is accomplished through scheduling meter calibrations, creating and recording measurement reports, communicating measurement changes, and documenting regulatory compliance — all in one software platform.
Plus, the software tools can be utilized in the palm of your hand. Techs can perform tasks on their mobile device and measurement supervisors can run the entire measurement operations from a smartphone. It’s a win-win for both parties.