How the Energy Industry Uses Wireless Connectivity

Energy Industry

4G LTE Helps Keep Energy Industry’s Remote Locations & Fleets Connected

Energy companies often are among the most distributed enterprises. With oil and natural gas wells, windmills, and office locations spread across wide, rural expanses, always-on network connectivity can be very challenging. Uptime is just as mission-critical in this industry as it is in a traditional branch office or retail store.

Here are some of the ways the energy industry is utilizing Cradlepoint’s 4G LTE solutions to create operational efficiencies, improve safety, and reduce OPEX costs:

Managing the Pipeline

One of Cradlepoint’s customers, an oil and gas producer, has pipelines stretching across three states. The company has installed more than 100 Cradlepoint devices along the pipeline to constantly monitor sensors that measure the amount of oil flowing through the pipe.

In real time, operators can detect a rapid drop in flow, then quickly respond by dispatching repair crews to the problem area, saving time and money.

Connectivity at Drilling Sites

Companies deploy Cradlepoint solutions at oil and gas drilling sites, using the devices to capture and transmit production data from the wells to remote offices. This connectivity also can provide work crews with WiFi connectivity in the field.

Truck Drivers Use Connectivity for Itinerary, Load Info, and Safety

Companies that transport oil and gas have installed Cradlepoint routers in their trucks, enabling their drivers to track their itinerary and monitor their loads via laptops. Drill sites may or may not have WiFi that’s accessible to the drivers, so reliable connectivity keeps drivers self-sufficient.

This connectivity also can monitor drive time, route, and driving conditions, then report that data back to central dispatch, which improves driver and load safety.

Scheduling Efficiencies and Information on the Move

A public utility waterworks that Cradlepoint works with installed our in-vehicle solutions in its fleet. The utility crews, which are constantly on the move, use this connectivity to receive job orders, check in with HQ, and complete paperwork.

Before the Cradlepoint solutions were installed, work crews would often arrive to a repair or job site without the correct equipment or specialized team members. With ruggedized Cradlepoint routers in their vehicles, utility repair teams can access complete work orders instantly and obtain all of the background information necessary to efficiently complete their work.

As a result, the utility company has drastically reduced overtime hours while improving its ability to ensure crews have everything they need to stay productive and safe.

SCADA Applications

Much of the data these companies need to collect is SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), used to indicate whether a pump or similar piece of equipment is on or off, or to remotely turn it on or off. Because these data transmissions are relatively lightweight, the companies can use 3G, a signal that is available at nearly every point in the U.S. and is fast enough for this type of transmission.

Ruggedized for All-Terrain Environments

Many energy companies have found that the Cradlepoint COR IBR1100 is well suited for the production environment. This ruggedized 3G/4G/LTE device — also used in military vehicles — is engineered to resist extreme temperatures, humidity, shocks, vibration, dust, water splash, reverse polarity, and transient voltage.

A Primary and/or Failover Connectivity Solution

In many locations, energy companies use Cradlepoint’s 4G LTE solutions for their primary network connection until they are able to have wired lines installed.

Running cable to any location, much less a very remote one, usually is both expensive and time-consuming, and still leaves the connection vulnerable should the wired lines be damaged or destroyed. In case of emergency, companies are using Cradlepoint platforms for reliable backup connectivity, or failover.

In some use cases, our devices featuring dual modems serve as both a primary connection and failover connection to ensure business continuity for “four-nines” (99.99%) network uptime. Office branch locations also utilize Cradlepoint’s AER Series of routers for multi-WAN Diversity. This application uses the router as a primary Edge device for wired lines and the dual cellular modems for failover and/or separate applications — like Point-of-Sale for bill payments.

Zero-touch Deployments and Network Management Through the Cloud

Using Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager (NCM), these companies can aggregate network data in one location, as well as centrally configure, monitor, and manage all of their distributed devices. NCM allows companies to filter content and utilize best-in-breed network security applications.

As in virtually every industry, 4G LTE networking is becoming an increasingly important strategy to implement for creating operational efficiencies, improving safety, and reducing OPEX costs.

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