How Mesh Networks Will Revolutionize Oil Field Communications

In recent years, the oil and gas industries have faced numerous challenges and crises. The pandemic, followed by the 2020 price war, supply chain disruptions, changing energy demands, and more have impeded growth. Now, on the other side of the pandemic, many suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand in light of the amount of production that was shut down over the past two years. 

In addition to these challenges, the operations and service side of the energy industry experiences several barriers to effective communication. Remote rigs and workspaces have long been challenging and costly for the industry, but with new technological advancements on the horizon, hope for the energy sector may be coming sooner than anticipated. These advances will help energy companies progress toward a better, more profitable future.

Communication Challenges in Oil Fields 

From radio telecommunications to the use of satellites and radio signals and more, communication in oil fields has taken many evolutionary turns over the last century. As machinery has become more complex and digitized, and with the new demand for “big data”, people in the energy industry are left wondering what further iterations must be taken to maximize communication and efficiency. As machinery evolves, so should communication strategies.

Oil fields sometimes lack proper communication networks within the acceptable range of their equipment. This can cause connectivity challenges that reduce efficiency and increase risk. Field technicians need consistent communication to solve issues as they arise. Connectivity challenges simply are not acceptable. 

The oil and gas industries fall behind others when it comes to technology integration. In fact, 94% of executives in this industry acknowledge that a more connected industrial workforce is essential moving forward, but only 22% of them have seriously implemented measures to get there. This simply won’t cut it moving forward. Tackling complex issues requires taking action. 

kinetic mesh network topology

How Mesh Networks Can Help 

To become truly productive and communicate seamlessly in remote locations, oil field equipment, employees, and technicians need to use communication networks that are reliable, sophisticated, and adaptable. Mesh networks provide all of these benefits and more. 

Oil and gas require 24/7/365 monitoring, along with a variety of vehicles, equipment, heavy machinery, and workers, which are dispersed across several miles of land, including the real estate of the oil field as well as hub locations and refineries. In order for these components to work seamlessly together at all hours of the day and night, reliable communication is essential. Every aspect of extraction and production must be monitored and managed in real-time. 

Mesh networks allow you to have continual communication, no matter where your oil rigs are located. Kinetic mesh network setups are made up of a mesh topology in which each computer or network device is interconnected with the others, allowing transmission of communication even if one of the pieces within the network goes down or loses signal. 

The mesh network our team develops through the use of our Spearlink module is self-healing. This means that the network is designed to identify any time one or more modules lose signal and communicate these concerns. Additionally, as soon as a module loses signal, it is programmed to locate the next closest functioning module so that it can promptly reconnect. This self-healing network enables monitoring to continue consistently without coverage gaps. Even if one module goes down, the network will adjust to continue coverage. 

This wireless network is of great value in remote oil fields that are monitored from great distances, as the interconnected communication model allows for 24/7, interconnected communication for remote monitoring. With a successful mesh network, you don’t have to worry about line of sight and can rest assured that your applications are being monitored at all times without gaps in coverage.

Land-Based Communication, Monitoring, and Reporting 

We know that the digital oil field is the future. And that always-on, continuous communication is essential to the oil and gas industries. Without it, mistakes are made, inefficiencies occur, and billions of dollars can be lost. That’s why we’ve created an innovative suite of products to solve many of the daily issues plaguing the energy industry. 

Our product, the Spearlink, takes your remote monitoring capabilities to the next level. With 900MHz of land-based, point-to-point, and point-to-multipoint communication, a Spearlink unit can be placed on your key equipment and provide constant monitoring and communication back to your offices. If the tank gets too full or an issue with the equipment occurs, the Spearlink will monitor its levels and signal your offices on when to send a truck and personnel. Through its 24/7, cloud-based mesh network, this one piece of compact technology can replace numerous pieces of standard equipment, like the hard-wired solutions traditionally used in oil fields. 

With the Horizon board’s embedded cellular modem, you have a complete, ready-to-integrate communications device with detection technology at your fingertips. This allows you to find and select the highest quality signal provider in the area, tapping into mobile phone signals in the most remote locations to create a tri-cellular network. For only $15/month, the Horizon can find and switch to the strongest land-based communication signal automatically, so you never lose communication. 

With DataCast, you can customize a kit that fits your unique needs. The DataCast is a customizable solution that includes the QuarterMaster and a communication module of your choosing (Spearlink or Horizon). Your DataCast solution will be built inside a NEMA 4  enclosure, ensuring that it is resilient enough to withstand harsh environments and weather conditions.

DataCast transmits information back to the base for timely insights on remote equipment. Depending on which communication module you choose, the DataCast uses point-to-point communication by way of the Spearlink, or cellular communication by way of the Horizon. This way, you have a data communication pathway that fits your needs. DataCast can be integrated into your existing Modbus, capture sensors, level switches, and analog and digital signal inputs. 

Our suite of products helps position you for remote, real-time monitoring that meets your needs. Depending on what you’re trying to monitor, we provide access to live data for you and your clients to see the status of your equipment in real-time. Whether it’s oil wells, water wells, or gas wells, you can get accurate and timely insights on all of your equipment. Contact us to find out more about our unique solutions for the energy industry. 

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