Iridium Automates Oil Equipment in The Argentine Desert

The oil rigs in Argentina’s Neuquén Basin are spread out across miles of desert. Operators must check the supply levels in water tanks as well as the settings on fracking pipes before using any equipment for fracking, but some of these facilities are so far apart that it takes two or three hours to drive from one to another.

Two companies sought to address this challenge: Tesacom, an Iridium partner in the region, and Exemys, a technology company that helps customers monitor dispersed and remote assets. The Exemys® GRD, a small and lightweight piece of electronic hardware for remote monitoring, can be attached to industrial equipment and connected to the Internet to provide status updates and enable workers to remotely adjust settings. However, these devices need a reliable connection to a robust network with coverage across the entire region. Some oil companies have used cellular networks to connect this type of equipment, but doing so is extremely resource-intensive: each location would require an antenna 3 or 4 meters in height, as well as transportation for both the materials and the construction team.

The Solution

To communicate with their equipment, Exemys sought out a service provider that could offer easy-to-install devices and consistently strong coverage. Exemys reached out to Tesacom because Tesacom understands and facilitates the highly complex operations, logistics, distribution, and resource administration in the many sectors of the telecommunications industry. By combining its cellular telemetry equipment with Iridium Edge devices, Exemys was able to establish communication with remote assets over Iridium’s Short Burst Data® (SBD®) service. Through Exemys’s online services, GRD users can get in touch with their equipment remotely for data retrieval and adjustments to settings.

Because Iridium Edge offers 180° line of sight coverage, it functions fully when installed atop existing equipment, removing the need for Exemys to build antennas at each site. This also makes it much faster to get Exemys equipment up and running, cutting down on the time from purchase to full operation. As an added bonus, Exemys never has to worry about any of their Iridium Edge devices running out of power: “You can easily power it with a small solar panel,” said Francisco Remersaro, Research and Development Manager at Exemys.

The Impact

Workers can now remotely check the status of oil companies’ tanks and pumps—as well as adjust their settings—without driving through the desert for several hours to do so. Iridium Edge offers connectivity 24 hours a day in remote locations from pole to pole. Many Exemys customers now receive automatic updates on the status of their equipment each hour, or even more often if desired.

Working together with the integrator allowed us to detect that the Iridium Edge equipment was the best option available for this specific case. The reliability and simple implementation of this equipment was crucial to develop the business.

Santiago Nicolet, Tesacom Projects Director
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