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Augmented Reality Being Used to Improve Oil Patch Operations

Augmented reality (AR) is being adopted faster in the oil and gas industry than any other sector. Evyatar Meiron, Chief Executive Officer, Fieldbit, said over a phone interview that augmented reality comprises of several technology forms.

Meiron referenced the augmented reality used in Pokemon Go as a sub-standard, comparing it to the technology offered by his company. He revealed that Fieldbit’s AR technology is much more advanced as it is based on the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) engine. According to Meiron, this form of AR technology has a better understanding of the apparatus and environment of the plant.

Meiron spoke in detail regarding the pressing need for the augmented reality technology, stating that technicians often face issues due to unavailability of equipment status information. He explains that the said information is currently found in the SCADA framework or control room. Technicians do not generally have access to critical status information of equipment. However, the introduction of AR into a refinery setting makes the complete information instantly accessible to operators or technicians. According to Meiron, this is a considerable advancement.

Augmented reality instructions “stick” to real objects. Screenshot courtesy of Fieldbit

Status information for equipment including gas processing plants, refineries and well heads can be obtained through AR. The technology enables technicians to get a three-dimensional perspective, similar to that of a human eye. Meiron revealed that the fetched information is superimposed atop equipment, to enable users to discern what requires servicing, and what method of servicing is needed.

Augmented reality can be useful for three segments of users. This includes the owner of refineries, manufacturers responsible for building and designing machinery, and the service company that intends on installing, utilising and servicing the equipment. – Evyatar Meiron

AR is able to provide financial sustainability to oil companies by reducing the needs of repeatedly assigning technicians. It is also enhancing the overall operations of a company by boosting the efficiency and speed of repairs. Meiron also stressed that AR can be used to improve overall safety.

Speaking about oil production, Meiron expressed that the environments are quite dangerous. He said that safety is of prime importance, and that everyone has to follow requisite safety methods. According to him, technicians also require fast and accurate knowledge to deal with any faulty equipment without delays.

Fieldbit enables onsite technicians to connect with offsite experts even on a low bandwidth network. Photo: courtesy

Meiron explained that experienced technicians who retire from a company or leave, do so with the knowledge in their heads. He believes that AR can amalgamate knowledge and technology to help an entire organisation benefit. He said that everyone can share knowledge and contribute towards common goals.

The type of AR being used by Fieldbit originates from the military, and has been released for use across industry sectors in recent years.

Meiron revealed that the technology was challenging to use in the past, as it needed hefty equipment and costly headsets. Now, with devices like Microsoft HoloLens and Google Glass, using the technology has become more convenient.

According to Meiron, the oil and gas industry is embracing the technology, to reduce service costs and improve procedures.

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