Jobs in the natural gas and oil industry are not without hazards. Unfortunately, drivers in this industry are several times more at risk of being involved in a fatality-causing highway crash than the national average. There are several factors that contribute to these grim statistics, including longer shifts, inexperienced drivers, and the use of older, unsafe, rigs.
GPS for transportation in the oil industry has several benefits that are making oil fleets both more productive and safer for their drivers in every capacity.
Oil Industry Truck Fleets
Tankers are the most identifiable truck of the oil industry, as they pick up and deliver oil and gas products to fuel stations across the nation. But, while tanker trucks may be the most visible on our highways, they represent just a small fraction of the types of trucks utilized every day in the oil industry. Other types of trucks used in this industry include:
- Semi-tractor trucks, often over-sized, which are used to transport equipment and supplies to remote exploration areas.
- Trucks designed to transport oil drilling rigs to specific locations in an oil field, which are usually remotely located and require long-distance driving.
- Water trucks that deliver water to drilling sites, which have become much more common with the rise of hydraulic fracturing (as this requires millions of gallons of water for each well).
- Gravel trucks, which move gravel and rock to sites to be used in the lining of pipeline corridors.
- Supply trucks, which bring food and other provisions to the worksite.
- Vacuum trucks, which load and remove waste and hazardous materials from the job site.
- Fuel trucks, which transport a variety of fuels to refuel storage tanks and vehicles at the job site.
- Well operation crew trucks, used by pumpers who generally cover up to 20 wells per day and drive up to 150 miles on preassigned routes.
Using GPS for Oil Industry Fleets
With the variety of trucks used in this industry, it is obvious that fleet management is no simple task. As driver safety, performance, and compliance issues are of the utmost importance, drivers must be consistently monitored, evaluated, and corrected when necessary.
Equally challenging is keeping track of diverse assets located at numerous sites, including stationary and moving vehicles. Operations occur at different times of the day and in multiple areas across a job site. Locating and tracking these assets, at all times, is critical to ensure production proceeds as planned and pickups/deliveries occur in a timely and efficient manner. GPS simplifies these requirements for fleet managers in the following ways:
Improving Driver Safety and Performance
GPS offers options for fleet managers that can increase driver safety and reduce the risk of accident-causing behavior. Two of these methods are:
Monitoring Driving Behavior
GPS systems can monitor aggressive driving behavior such as speeding, rapid acceleration, hard braking, and even extended periods of idling. Some GPS software applications offer random snapshots of the driver while in transit, so managers can observe driver alertness and adherence to "on-task" behavior.
Compliance With Hours of Service Regulations
Compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations is both a legal requirement and a huge safety feature offered by many GPS systems for the oil industry. To meet compliance, electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial fleets must be implemented by December 18th, 2017. HOS regulations are rules designed to reduce driver fatigue, which is a contributing factor in many at-fault commercial vehicle accidents.
Providing Real-time Tracking and Monitoring of Assets and Vehicles
GPS for oil fleet managers allows them to rapidly verify the location of assets in the field, as well as vehicles and/or drivers on the highway. The data can be displayed on a single platform that combines a vehicle’s current and work location.
When multiple vehicles are being operated, GPS can establish which vehicle is closest, what equipment is needed, where the vehicle is located, and combine this data to instantly obtain the most efficient solution. The tracking features of GPS are also a deterrent to thieves. Not only will GPS with geofencing set off a location alert when assets leave a defined worksite, but this feature will also speed up the recovery process.
Offering Preventive Maintenance
GPS allows oil fleet managers to perform preventive maintenance tasks on a scheduled basis, no matter how many vehicles or what type of vehicles are included in the fleet. These tasks include:
- Regular servicing
- Engine adjustments
- Worn part replacement
There are many other uses of GPS for oil industry fleets that help increase productivity, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction. However, the single most important contribution of GPS for oil industries is that this technology can save lives.