Review of RFID Technology For The Offshore Industry

In 2010 the RFID market growth was 14%. Interest in the Offshore Industry and associated Service Companies is gathering momentum.

Warehouse inspection activity

Plant inspection of Relief Valves

Plant inspection of Fire Hoses

Checking plant “Locked” / “Unlocked valves

Lifting Equipment

Typical inspection list
In brief, RFID technology is proving to be successful and is definitely here to stay as it offers full traceability of assets such as drilling equipment, mechanical equipment, tools, process equipment, valves, maintenance activities and inspection. I will share some background information on RFID and examples in the industry where it has been successfully used.

Questions are often raised on what equipment an End User or Service Company has and where are they located? What condition are they in? Are full traceable maintenance / inspection records available and easily accessible? Do they comply with HSE, and industry regulations?

As an ex-End User difficulties often arose with the lack of reliable historical maintenance or inspection data. Lack of “live” reports hindered effective HSE and plant management. Often paper check lists were used which was time consuming. In addition quality management was lacking.

RFID is enabling management of the entire lifecycle of assets providing full control and visibility of locations, certification, inspections and maintenance. Also in the ever increasing HSE demands on the industry RFID enables full traceable audits in equipment manufacturer, plant construction, commissioning and operations.

So what’s been happening?

Example 1
The recent Technical Conference in Houston presented some four papers on RFID applications. Several suppliers now offer this technology and foresee it playing an important part in improving tracking of assets within the industry. The End User is now using RFID.

Example 2
Several reputable Distributors are now using RFID technology to track their valves.

A Distributor QA Manager said, “Using RFID technology had made us realize that technology can only better our work environment. We are able to ensure quality control inspections are carried out, ensure the highest level of quality to our customers, improve the efficiency of our warehouse and manage our supplier’s performance. Also we are now able to prevent a NCR (Non Conformance Report) been given to us from our customers, we are able to know exactly where a valve is located in the warehouse, what condition it is in and trace all the inspection and test certificates relating to each specific valve.”

Example 3
A well known valve manufacturer uses RFID technology for all their valves to protect against Counterfeiting.

The valve manufacturer stated “…… After being the target of several counterfeit valve manufacturers out of the Far East, we decided to fight back and find a way to protect ourselves and our brand from expensive legal battles as well as give our customers the assurance that they were indeed getting the correct brand from a qualified manufacturer in their operating unit. Adding RFID tag technology gives that knowledge and a surety level. With RFID tags and registration the customer can know for certain that he is receiving the correct product that is qualified, registered, and approved. The end user can rest assured they are protecting the integrity in their supply chain. This reduces risk of installing potentially unsafe, unknown products into major industrial complexes.”

Example 4
RFID technology has been used for detailed inspection of plant equipment to ensure compliance with the specification and site activities.

Example 5
In the Service sector using RFID technology on drilling equipment has enabled vast savings in materials controls.

Example 6
Safety has been significantly improved using RFID technology on lifting equipment. Errors in test protocol, test frequencies and certification have been removed.

Example 7
Also in the service sector equipment maintenance shops are using RFID technology to improve their inhouse efficiencies.

What is the future of RFID technology?
RFID technology is currently expanding in several market segments including Construction, Rail and Mining in areas such as Inspections and on-hire/offhire. Likewise various sections within the Offshore, Petrochemical and Chemical Industry are mobilizing. I envisage that this will continue.

Barrie Kirkman
Tel: +44 (0) 7791 497111

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 18

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