Monitoring Generators in Remote Sites
The Growth in Remote Exploration Sites
The oil and gas sector is undergoing significant change and growth. In many ways, this growth has meant more diverse and remote locations. With so much onshore unconventional reservoir production and challenging remote location exploration occurring, the need for reliable power has grown significantly.
These environments are creating significant demand for diesel generators, either as the primary source of power or for backup generation. Industries as diverse as utilities, and telecommunication providers are turning to these generators for their dependability especially in high-risk and emergency power situations after a natural disaster or other failure. Diesel generators provide an important stop-gap – creating an opportunity to both back up power sources to ensure reliability but also for topping up batteries when necessary.
Managing such systems is no longer difficult. With monitoring tools available, organizations can improve access and control over these difficult situations with ease.
The Hows & Whys of Monitoring
Monitoring is critical, especially in these more remote and high-risk areas. Traditional systems rely on an individual to check and inspect generators on a routine basis to ensure they are working properly. But, this isn’t always practical.
With new resources, it is possible to remotely monitor the condition and status of operation of generators from any location. This reduces the need for any type of costly service or on-site visit to such locations. Solutions exist to allow the monitor to connect in one of several ways, such as through a cellular network, satellite communication system, Ethernet, or others. The data sent over these methods is safe – and often encrypted – to ensure safe communications with the generator without risk to the company.
This type of remote monitor also allows for continuous, real-time support. When a specific alarm is set and goes off, an SMS message is sent, or an email goes out. This allows for fast response times and immediate insight into conditions. These real-time monitoring solutions provide easy-to-use management tools capable of providing a live status, maintenance and service log access, and mapping of locations. This web application and the data it provides can be integrated into the company’s current software.
What Needs Monitoring?
Monitoring solutions like these are necessary in many situations. With limited labor access, cost-cutting efforts, and a lack of manpower overall, many industries can benefit from the application of monitoring. This is very true in the oil and gas sector. In all aspects, monitoring provides information in a seamless, highly reliable fashion. Monitoring can be ideal in any of the following applications.
Monitoring Diesel and Gas Fuel Levels
A key aspect of monitoring applies to fuel levels. Systems can alert for changes in fuel levels – such as reaching a minimum level. It can also create alarms for critical levels. Another key is to establish protocols for what is normal usage, allowing for alarms to indicate when fuel loss falls beyond a certain rate. These tools can monitor fuel levels with exceeding accuracy, providing highly reliable information.
Fuel Leak Monitoring
A fuel leak, while not necessarily uncommon, are always costly. These monitoring tools can eliminate scenarios in which remote location leaks go unnoticed for an extended period of time. A slow leak can create risks for generators, and lead to significant risks when the generator is called on in an emergency situation. An unnoticed leak can lead to a fire risk in these situations. The use of Rope-type leak detectors can detect liquid levels of gas and diesel to eliminate these risks.
Monitoring voltage provides key information on location operations, including the exact moment when the backup kicks on to perform power support. It starts automatically when the prime source of power stops, providing key information to the company in such situations.
Monitoring Environmental Conditions
Monitoring personnel can provide insight into the conditions surrounding remote sites. Most of these locations are in difficult conditions or may be exposed to potentially environment hazards and external forces. However, monitoring tools provide more control over these scenarios.
They can monitor for risk factors to power equipment. This includes monitoring for temperature changes, humidity levels, water leaks, and air flow changes. This allows for companies to take action early on to make operational decisions. And again, no person needs to be exposed to such risks to understand the conditions present.
Security Monitoring Solutions
Security remains a key factor as to why some organizations limit remote exploration and production. Manual checks remain high-risk. Monitoring can provide some relief from these challenges.
Monitoring for these locations is customizable to meet location-specific concerns. This may include the use of security cameras and motion detection systems. They can also provide specific area protection with door and hatch sensors. The use of fire alarms can also be utilized.
Power Control Monitoring
Power control is perhaps one of the most important areas of monitoring. When systems stop working in a remote location, it can be difficult to manage. In most of these situations, an individual must visit the location in order to reboot or handle the power concern. With monitoring tools, outages can be rectified with a simple reboot managed at a distance, eliminating the need for travel to the destination.
Track System Location
Users can monitor the generators location. This system allows for insight into when the generator is moved without proper prior authorization.
Monitoring solutions can also provide insight into the total energy produced by the generator. This may include the amount of energy produced per liter of diesel, providing insight into usage needs.
Critical Parameter Monitoring
In some situations, it is necessary for the system to work continuously. With parameter monitoring, it is possible to monitor the functionality of the generator. This includes engine oil pressure, oil levels, temperature, and other factors.
Other areas of monitoring may include:
- Battery charger status
- Utility power status
- Engine status, over speed, or over crank
- Coolant level and temperature monitoring
Monitoring is often customizable to meet the individual needs of the organization.
Benefits of Remote Monitoring
Remote monitoring provides numerous benefits including:
- Prevention of emergencies by allowing for technicians to notice changes immediately and react before serious damage occurs. Allows for faster solutions to potential problems.
- Improving efficiency and overall performance of the generator with better oversight.
- Ample security improvement.
- Manage scheduled maintenance when it is needed – avoiding over or under maintaining critical infrastructure.
- Reduce downtime from a lack of knowledge of remote location conditions and operations.
- Provide on-demand reports to provide a real-time understanding of conditions.
- Provide start and stop capability, allowing for remote control over the system.
- Prevent fuel theft by monitoring the exact amount of fuel filled at any location.
- Provide detailed fuel usage and reports based on accurate and real-time data rather than potentially dishonest reports from service personnel.
- Determining if the generator is running at its optimal load, allowing for under or over utilization to enhance fuel efficiencies.
- Extend the life of the generator by ensuring optimize generator performance long-term.
- Better efficiency means reduced environmental impact of fuel use.