Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Globalstar satellite asset tracking going well at Shell

Steve Rogerson
June 30, 2016
Oil giant Shell has selected Globalstar satellite asset tracking to manage high-value equipment on land and offshore. The aim is to cut asset management time, cost and paperwork.
The satellite-based asset management system has been deployed in the Netherlands to manage its movable assets securely on land and at sea. By more closely and efficiently managing its high-value assets and their associated test certification, Shell has achieved a positive return on investment (RoI) in just three months.
The Alltrack track and trace system provided by Globalstar’s Dutch-based value added reseller Improvement-IT, incorporates QR codes, Globalstar’s SmartOne satellite asset managers and a cloud-based content management system.
Alltrack has been integrated with Shell’s internal mapping software utility to make it easy to locate assets precisely, while geo-fencing confirms that items are in the right place. This ensures that equipment test certificates are valid, eliminating paperwork while cutting time and costs as well as speeding up supply chain operations.
To date, Shell has deployed 250 SmartOne devices attached to various high value assets including pumps, tools, power supplies and generators, which may be on land, in containers, in transit or offshore. With terrestrial mobile communications networks being incomplete, unreliable or non-existent in these locations, satellite was the only reliable communications option.
Improvement-IT chose to use SmartOne’s simplex asset manager for communications because of its reliability, long battery life and ability to switch between battery and line-powered as required. It uses motion sensors, comparative GPS positions and sensors to gather and transmit asset status information over Globalstar’s satellite network.
Designed from that outset to be easy to use for non-technical staff, Alltrack requires just 15 minutes of training. There are approximately 100 users at Shell, with more being added.
Shell originally started by using 2D QR style codes to track down hole drilling tools for oil and gas platforms as they went into and out of its warehouses. Then, in 2015, Shell extended this facility to tracking assets being put into containers for transport or storage, and tracking them by GPS, communicating the containers’ status back to headquarters using Globalstar’s satellite network.
“Shell has very challenging asset management requirements as its equipment is used down wells and in environments with high pressure and temperature,” said Daan te Nuijl, managing director at Improvement IT. “We created a specialist solution for Shell and chose the Globalstar network and technology for communications because of their reliability, security, low cost and ease of doing business with the company. The deployment has gone smoothly and immediately started delivering benefits to Shell by cutting the time and cost involved in finding assets and ensuring the correct certifications were in place.”
Shell is now testing track-and-trace in other parts of the business, including monitoring pipe and tube materials, with a view to expanding its use. Plus, third parties who manage certification processes and those who manage tools for Shell can now benefit from using the system too.
“This new satellite-based solution ensures we get the full picture of where our assets are even if they are on a rig in the North Sea,” said Albert Bos, team leader for the well services workshop at Shell. “We have gone from a paperwork-intensive environment to a hosted asset management system that makes decision-making quick and easy.”
When a container arrives at the warehouse, security officers already know what’s inside and the test certificates are automatically validated, saving significant time. The company can also see which of its rented assets are being underutilised so it can return them and cut costs.
“Shell’s use of Alltrack is a great example of how organisations can increase productivity dramatically by extending communications in remote locations and offshore with satellite technology,” said Corry Brennan, simplex EMEA regional sales manager at Globalstar. “Alltrack has significantly improved the efficiency of operations at Shell and this will only increase as they use the solution to monitor more and more assets.”