Conference tools to help oil and gas companies to stay productive working remotely
New technology allows “social distancing” for essential workers in the field, allowing them to understand, plan and coordinate effectively from home.
With the COVID-19 global pandemic, businesses need to get more accomplished remotely than ever before. “Social distancing” is the term on everyone’s mind. While it’s very frustrating in our personal lives, it can seem impossible in the O&G business. So much of oil and gas engineering requires going into the field and examining things just to understand and communicate what needs to be completed. The good news is that technology is enabling new and innovative ways for workers to work efficiently and remotely.
Larger organizations typically have communication tools and processes already in place by a dedicated IT group. Extending these to more people across the company will take time and training, but it can be achieved. For more traditional or smaller companies that may not have a dedicated IT group, implementing technology solutions can seem overwhelming. Here are some easy tools to get started working remotely.
It’s been shown that interpreting a message from another person is 7% verbal, 38% vocal and 55% visual communication. Everything from fidgeting and facial expressions, to head movement, hand gestures, and body posture is part of communication that gives valuable insight into how what is being said, is being received. The ability to see the people you are talking to can be incredibly valuable.
Beyond just seeing people, modern video conferencing tools provide a range of other abilities such as:
- Hosting a project meeting from home without the need for specialized equipment.
- Quickly and easily sharing a desktop screen with co-workers.
- Allowing control of your screen to help walk you through a new program or computer settings.
Users with Gmail accounts can already start using Google Meet. The video conferencing software is already built into the Google Suite. From Gmail, just go into the top right corner menu and select Meet. Users also can set up a Google Meet while creating a Google Calendar event, which makes setting up a video conference at the same time easy. A great feature of Google Meet is it allows people to call into a meeting from either their telephones or their computers. It also runs inside of a standard web browser, so there is no additional software to install.
Zoom has feature-rich video conferencing software. Like other video conference tools, users can share their screen with other people on the call. Zoom also has an annotation feature that lets participants draw on the shared screen. Users also can grant control of your computer to someone that you are sharing with, which is a great way to let experts help novice users with new applications. There are a number of other features that are part of Zoom, such as chatting (to a group or privately to one person), polling and recording calls.
Traveling to a location to understand the site layout and equipment positioning has always been important. This ensures that everyone is on the same page before authorizing and deploying resources to do work on an actual location. Sketching rough notes on paper to share with subcontractors explaining work to be done, or walking a site with crew leaders, to make sure everyone is on the same page and increase the odds of a job being successful. With current oil prices and a global pandemic, this essential activity while still costly, has become an area of increased risk.
The right site visualization tool allows you to direct your workforce and precisely pinpoint the areas of immediate attention, clearly communicate essential tasks, and greatly reduce the need for location visits.
In the past few years, the use of drones or manned aircraft to capture a birds’ eye view of a location has been growing in popularity. Depending on the kind of aerial capture equipment used, these high resolution images provide you with fidelity down to a fraction of an inch in accuracy. These kinds of images are particularly useful for right-of-way analysis and validating equipment that has been installed in a way that is much more current and reliable than a satellite view from your favorite mapping app.
Ondaka is a tool to improve operational efficiency and that also enables a new category of worker to work from home. With Ondaka, field crews and other essential workers can spend their time planning, coordinating and collaborating with teammates and subcontractors from home, while maintaining social distancing recommendations and staying productive. Ondaka enables companies to see physical assets from anywhere.
Ondaka gives operators full control of 3D models of their equipment. Users can scale, rotate, zoom in, and “virtually” walk a site. Beyond just seeing what’s there, users are able to annotate important components, measure any object they see, mark up the sites with notes and define operating procedures for tasks to be completed. All can be done with point-and-click ease using a standard web browser.
Ondaka recently announced its Virtual Visit Program which allows operations teams to shelter-in-place. They are waiving licensing and onboarding costs for small and midsized operators and have negotiated at-cost pricing with their drone capture partners.
There are times when the entire team needs to communicate. A robust messaging tool can help solve these problems, allowing users to chat in real time or leave messages that won’t be missed. This is particularly useful with overseas communication or when meaningful content needs to be added to a conversation; pictures and video of work in progress, or documents needed for approvals and signoffs.
Slack is a messaging app for work teams. It avoids long text and email chains, allowing teams to quickly communicate. Slack messages are searchable and documents can be attached and shared with a team. A single workgroup can create multiple private channels in Slack, so that only the people who need to see a message will receive it. Slack is a place for all the quick and informal communication necessary for day-to-day business. The free version lets users search the last 10,000 messages that have been sent, but if companies want to archive more, the cost per user is relatively low and will unlock a number of additional robust features.
Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it is simple and free. It is known for robust end-to-end security and works on all devices simultaneously. Messages sync seamlessly across any number of phones, tablets and computers. Users also can share an unlimited number of photos, videos and files (doc, zip, mp3, etc.) of up to 1.5 GB each and create groups of up to 200,000 people or dedicated channels for broadcasting to your limitless audiences.