Remote monitoring is already an everyday part of most modern industries, and a majority of oil and gas pipelines already require some form of monitoring.
The question remains: where does a technical maintenance team’s role end and the remote monitor’s role begin?
Since a skilled pipeline technician can already get manual readouts directly at the source and conduct maintenance, a technician is 100% effective. On the other hand, while remote monitors can take readings, the monitors themselves cannot execute most maintenance tasks without human intervention, making them only part of the solution.
Rather than being an inferior substitute for technicians, remote monitors should function as a force multiplier, making technicians more effective. Whether you are looking to start remote monitoring, or you are considering shrinking or expanding your existing monitoring system, make sure you maximize these options for getting the most value out of your skilled technicians when using remote monitors.
Remote monitors make technicians more valuable than before.
Years of experience with pipeline inspection and repair is not easily trained or replaced. For that reason, skilled technicians should spend the majority of their time solving difficult challenges. Monitors save your team travel time, letting you use their skill for what they do best instead of staying on the road.
By forcing a technician to drive directly to various locations along a pipeline in order to determine maintenance needs, you end up using a valuable resource for the wrong purpose. Drive time only subtracts from the time that a technician could otherwise spend solving pipeline problems.
In some cases, you may not even have enough total time from the right technicians to solve all of your challenges, leading to overworking key team members, or falling behind on pipeline maintenance. These problems and other readouts can be diagnosed by a remote monitor. Because remote monitor readouts are long distance and instantaneous, drive time becomes much less of a burden. Your technician spends more time on fixing problems rather than running diagnostics, and you have less of a challenge replacing valuable experience.
And while drive time to maintenance sites is still going to be a requirement, it will be significantly less than time spent for diagnostics alone. Changing the priority from driving to skilled maintenance doesn’t even include the fringe benefit of saving on fuel, insurance, and fleet maintenance from reduced drive time, either.
Remote monitors allow technicians to have a better work experience.
It’s clear that high-quality monitors allow your team to get valuable readouts and have greater control so they are even more effective. But other than pride of work, what’s there to gain for the team of technicians who make the switch from manual readouts to remote monitoring?
Technicians who rely on monitors rather than travel to get readings and conduct remote tasks get more done in less time, which makes the job more satisfying. Remote monitors also give technicians information sooner than they would have gotten it live, and help prioritize tasks, both of which increase equipment uptime and reduce job-related stress!
But those cost-saving measures don’t just increase the company’s bottom line. Because of the increased value to a company, a technician who can work with remote monitors becomes more competitive and potentially better rewarded in their field.
And despite what you may think, remote monitors and automation are not a threat to the manpower element of pipeline maintenance. In the U.S. economy, automation is replacing human components in the workforce at a staggering rate, with 38% of U.S. jobs at high risk of being replaced by robotics or automated technology in the next 15 years. However, in industries such as oil and gas, manpower is in greater demand than supply. This means that, regardless of technology brought in, the oil and gas industry has yet to cover the manpower need it has, much less risk its existing technicians.
Remote monitors provide excellent backup for your team’s live readings.
Regardless of whether your team will still conduct the majority of work live, you should always have the option to use remote monitors in case you need them. Having remote monitors online may help when time or manpower are severely limited but failure is not an option. This reassurance can make compliance, maintenance, and emergency response a much easier experience and potentially save your team and company from unwanted anxiety or even loss of profits.
Plus, with a high-quality remote monitoring service, your unique data points will be constantly recorded, stored, and secured so that you can meet government regulations. Having the information at your fingertips is not only a convenience, but a digital safeguard against missed live checks and the overwhelming scale of keeping long-term compliance records.
Essentially, remote monitors are cost saving and improve how a technician gets his job done. They don’t eliminate the need for technicians, but they can make life better for technicians when there aren’t enough resources to get certain jobs done.
If you’d like to learn more about remote monitoring, contact us now.