Smith Market Blog

OTC 2014 – Harsh Environment Industrial Electronics Improves Downhole Tools


The annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) 2014 is quickly approaching, and Houston, TX is readying for this major event for the Oil & Gas (O&G) industry. Currently, the industrial electronics sector is growing hand-in-hand with wider industrial manufacturing growth, as we discussed earlier this month. The component market, in turn, is seeing an increase in designs intended to meet the demands for harsh environments and ruggedized solutions for the industrial sector, as recently discussed in EPS.

Ruggedized tools expanding

The development and improvements in multicore systems, notably the size shrinks and low power capabilities, have dramatically increased the range of applications and along with improvements in on-board electronics in the most demanding and harsh environments, we have seen important advances in tools. Notably, for the O&G industry, down hole tools demand among the most ruggedized standards, often exceeding aerospace and defense, simply because of the physical environment, vibration, shock, temperature extremes, and duration of runtime and exposure to these extreme conditions. Today's sensors, ICs, and multi-core processors have been designed for just the extreme situations and multitasking requirements that are improving downhole operations for O&G.

The advantages that the latest set of downhole tools offer is tremendous: increased downhole monitoring, drill guidance, real-time data collection and transmission to surface stations, longer life-cycles, and improved low power demand for onboard electronics, are among some of the capabilities that are available for enhanced Measurement While Drilling (MWD) tools in the most extreme environments. Taken together, and coupled with improved Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connectivity from downhole locations to surface field site stations, the ability to safely, effectively, and accurately monitor and guide exploration and production (E&P) activities has been significantly improved.

Managing components still critical

Of course, the cost of part failure can be financially significant, not to mention potential human safety and environmental risks. Due to the high cost of these components, the requirements for high reliability, and the necessity for abiding by the highest quality standards, harsh environment electronics are a specialized component sector. Sourcing, managing and properly storing these components, therefore, presents significant challenges for those along the O&G supply chain, from tool manufacturers to exploration and production (E&P) companies using tools in the field. Testing and proper storage monitoring temperature, humidity, ESD, and handling, among other issues, must meet and/or exceed industry standards. Simultaneously, because of the longer time frames for managing these highly specialized components, secured and qualified inventory management, purchasing, and counterfeit detection must be part of the services provided to O&G companies with the capability of meeting immediate demand needs when there is a part failure in the field.

The demands in the O&G sector are extreme, from the environments in which downhole tools must operate and provide essential information in real-time, to the longer time frames for holding components, especially ones that have entered Last Time Buy (LTB) phases, quality is at the front line. Not only must supply chain partners be able to provide the utmost attention to quality, sourced components must undergo proper testing, handling, storing and delivery to often remote sites when components are required. These demands are dramatically different than any other industry sector that the semiconductor and electronics supply chain supports. What that means is that experienced partners, such as Smith & Associates, must have deep knowledge, laboratory capabilities and market experience in O&G and in the semiconductor and electronics industry to ensure the critical electronic components needed are properly sourced, fairly priced, and that quality is always paramount.

Smith's trading professionals and O&G sourcing specialists will be on-hand at Smith's booth, number 8644, to answer questions and provide literature throughout OTC and to showcase the innovative quality, sourcing, and supply chain practices that are the hallmark of Smith’s flexible capabilities. Attendees can also schedule individual meetings with Smith representatives during the show for additional information.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 14:49 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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