Amid an industry-wide labor shortage and global supply chain disruptions, the energy sector is under immense pressure to increase production. These issues, in addition to geopolitical tensions, are deeply complex and cannot be addressed on an individual scale.
Additionally, the energy industry faces major communication challenges as the workforce and equipment operate in remote and harsh environments. With assets and personnel constantly on the move in areas lacking traditional methods of connectivity, it can be difficult to monitor productivity and access field data. This, in turn, may impact other critical events or environmental compliance standards, as well as protective measures in the event of an emergency.
Although individual companies cannot independently strengthen the global supply chain, solve labor shortages or reconcile international relations, fortunately, this last set of connectivity issues can be improved. Where terrestrial cellular coverage is insufficient, satellite connectivity prevails. With satellite coverage, continuous connectivity can be ensured for remote asset tracking, asset management, secure communications at exploration sites, monitoring of transmission and deliveries tracked by the infrastructure of Internet of Things (IoT) and worker safety for improved business efficiency.
Given the current pressure on the energy industry, it is imperative to reduce costs and increase productivity wherever possible. Some challenges may be uncontrollable, but issues such as visibility, connectivity, and communication can undoubtedly be solved, resulting in significant benefits for business owners, employees, and customers.
Satellite IoT in action
Satellite IoT refers to the use of satellite communication networks and services to connect terrestrial IoT sensors and IoT endpoints to a server. The IoT enables interconnectivity between objects so that they can communicate and relay commands without requiring human-to-human or even human-to-computer interaction. The type of information relayed depends on the specific IoT sensor, which is determined based on the use case.
As a concept, it can be difficult to grasp how revolutionary this technology can be for the energy sector. While continuous and reliable asset connectivity and management sounds helpful, how exactly is the value realized? There are endless ways to implement satellite IoT; the limit of its applications is constrained only by the limit of the imagination.
Take cathodic protection (CP), for example. CP systems control corrosion, protecting the millions of miles of metal pipelines that carry petroleum products, natural gas, water and wastewater in our communities. However, to continue to be effective, these systems eventually need to be replaced. Traditionally, site inspections by pipeline personnel are required several times a year. With thousands of miles of pipeline traversing remote territory, a significant amount of time must be spent on staff time and travel expenses.
However, with satellite IoT, CP systems can be monitored wirelessly for pipeline operators around the world. The satellite IoT device provides continuous performance monitoring with automated alerts for unusual conditions or outages, and the ability to test remotely. Additionally, technicians can use any web-enabled device to access a cloud platform to see where CP systems are operating normally and download performance data, generate reports, and remotely change configurations. machines.
Another common application of satellite IoT in the energy industry is monitoring oil reservoirs. To maintain oil production, liquid levels in storage tanks at a drilling site require regular monitoring. Older gauge systems are complicated, expensive to install and calibrate, and often require personnel to check gauges by hand. Reservoir monitoring is increasingly handled remotely, but for on-the-go drilling rigs, cellular connection is unreliable.
Satellite-enabled IoT tools can illuminate reservoir level data, including GPS coordinates, allowing drilling companies and their suppliers to see all reservoirs, set automatic alerts when levels are low, and automate the dispatch of supply trucks to fill the tanks. Intelligent data processing on peripheral devices enables limited data transmission when tanks require no action and data condensing into short messages, reducing transmission costs. Drilling companies can effectively save thousands of unnecessary hours and ensure fluids are always available to support uninterrupted operation.
These examples are just a sample of the litany of ways satellite-based IoT technology can be leveraged across the energy industry.
Continuous Connectivity Meets Customization
To truly grasp the reliability of satellite connectivity, it is important to understand that this technology is used to save thousands of lives each year. For personnel working in remote locations, satellite messengers can be used to share location and status information in the event of an emergency. While thousands of people are ready to use satellite communications when their lives are at stake, every business owner should have peace of mind when it comes to using the same technology to monitor and manage their equipment, its fleet or assets.
Besides reliability, satellite IoT solutions can be customized to meet specific needs or use cases. Embedded satellite IoT chips can integrate with a wide range of hardware depending on application needs. However, the true extent of customization is achieved on the software side of the IoT.
With some devices and enabling platforms, instead of custom coding for specific device hardware, developers can, using a low-code platform, hardware abstraction and of unified APIs, interface seamlessly between the application and the capabilities of the satellite IoT edge device. By developing artificial intelligence (AI)-based applications that send intelligent data from the edge, energy companies can effectively reduce transmission costs associated with sending data from the IoT device to the endpoint or server, and improve operational performance.
Flexibility is also a useful attribute of satellite IoT solutions. Say, for example, an organization is looking to expand its IoT capabilities, additional sensors can quickly and easily provide valuable new functionality using Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, if a business could benefit from machine learning and executables to improve the performance of systems in the field, the right IoT partner will have the storage and processing power to run applications at the edge, and of the platform to simplify configuration, application development and device management.
As society continues to advance with technology, many are turning to renewable energy options in addition to traditional energy sources like oil and gas. These power generation methods are also often located in remote areas and would benefit from satellite IoT as much as any other organization that has people and assets located in isolated areas.
The beauty of satellite IoT is that it will work for you, regardless of your specific needs or geographic location. For those operating in remote areas who stand to gain from visibility, reliability, reduced costs and reallocation of employee hours, consider satellite IoT to meet today’s demands. of the energy sector.
—David Haight is the Vice President of IoT for Globalstar. He is a prominent telecommunications and IoT industry leader with extensive experience growing network connectivity and developing impactful strategies to build partner channels and strategic relationships in the IoT.