A Texas-based company achieved back-to-back 30 percent reductions in operating costs by utilizing Cat Connect technology and services to gather and analyze the data generated by its equipment.
According to Matt Begler, Global Cat Connect sales manager for Caterpillar Oil & Gas, the Texas-based company approached Caterpillar about a decade ago with an interest in digitizing its fleet and implementing a telematics solution to improve efficiency.
"At the time, every technician was responsible for visiting 10 natural gas compressors a day," Begler said. "They only found out about issues when they arrived on site or when the owner-operator alerted them to a problem. It was an entirely reactive way of conducting business."
The rental company implemented Cat Connect Asset Health Monitoring across its fleet. This remote-monitoring system collects and analyzes pressure, temperature and fluid level data—as well as downtime events—from every compressor. Each morning, it generates a report alerting technicians to the status of their assigned units.
Rather than visiting every compressor every day, technicians now only need to travel to those sites requiring service. That allowed the company to double the number of compressors assigned to each technician—resulting in a 30 percent reduction in operating costs.
"Instead of one technician being responsible for 10 assets, that same technician can now manage 20 assets, while providing the same or better service to customers," Begler said. "Because technicians know in advance what's happening with the units they visit, they're able to respond to downtime issues more quickly."
Next, the company implemented a control room strategy—establishing dispatch centers in Houston and Midland, Texas, where subject matter experts oversee the entire fleet. These highly trained technicians evaluate the data gathered from the compressors, diagnose potential issues, and recommend solutions to technicians in the field.
"Many of the field technicians are new to the business, and they don't always know the best way to respond to the data they receive," Begler said. "By pulling some of its expert technicians into these dispatching centers, the company can provide better guidance to the field. They can dispatch technicians to the right place with the right parts before a mechanical problem occurs."
This approach again led to an improvement in the company's technician-to-compressor ratio—one individual is now responsible for 30 units—and another 30 percent operating cost reduction.
Back-office integration aids in cost reduction
Today, the company is expanding its use of Cat Connect Asset Health Monitoring by ensuring that remote-monitoring data interacts with back-office systems—everything from parts inventory and preventive maintenance to GPS vehicle tracking.
"They're using the system to create automated service tickets, schedule preventive maintenance work based on actual run hours and make better decisions about inventory and parts storage," Begler said. "Another benefit is the ability to better predict when a downtime event may occur, so they can take action before it becomes a bigger problem."
By continuing to leverage Cat Connect across its business, the company hopes to achieve an additional 30% reduction in operating costs.
In addition to Asset Health Monitoring, a variety of Cat Connect hardware, software and dealer service offerings are available to help oil and gas customers take advantage of the data generated by today's equipment. Begler encourages companies to start simply by getting their fleets connected.
"You don't have to do everything at once, but when you begin changing your day-to-day business practices, you'll begin to see the value," he said. "It's a journey, and Caterpillar and Cat dealers are with you on that journey. We'll work with you to apply the appropriate technology to help achieve the gains you're looking for in your business. The results can be significant."
More from Asset Management
Industries such as construction, mining, energy, utilities and forestry, face many challenges when it comes to tracking assets and employees. Equipment often has to be transferred between locations, or monitored while it is dormant during off seasons. Lone workers may have to travel long distances or visit multiple sites during the course of their activities. And, all of this is further complicated today with shifting supply chains and economic realities putting further strain on the bottom line.