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Scottish Manufacturer Uses RFID to Monitor Location of Expensive Oil Well Equipment

Equipment built for use in oil wells is not only expensive, but often includes many potentially hazardous materials. As such, it must be closely monitored, both on a manufacturer's site and as it leaves the plant, bound for an end user. FMC Technologies, a Scotland-based manufacturer of equipment for the energy industry, is using RFID technology so it knows where every piece of equipment is.

FMC is employing an AeroScout real-time location system installed by Boston Networks, a U.K.-based Wi-Fi network provider. The system identifies where each piece of equipment is located as it is being assembled, as well as when that item is shipped to an end user, and when it is later returned for refurbishing. That information provides an automated record for regulators, while also helping the company ensure that its operations run efficiently.

The installation occurred at FMC's 213,000-square-foot Dunfermline Subsea facility. FMC Technologies builds petrochemical wellhead devices used to cap oil pipes for undersea oil wells. The devices are large—in some cases, the size of a small car. The Dunfermline facility assembles the equipment and then ships the items to energy companies. Throughout that process, the firm tracks each piece's location and status—not just to ensure that every item is easy to locate within the large warehouse and assembly space, but also to help the company comply with safety-based regulatory and statutory requirements regarding where objects are moved or stored, and for how long. Once the oil-drilling project is complete, the equipment is returned to the Dunfermline site, where it is refurbished prior to being shipped out for reuse.

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