Benefits of GIS Map Integration with a GPS Fleet Tracking Solution
Project managers in the oil and gas pipeline industry have a number of concerns, ranging from employee and asset management to ensuring projects stay on track and on budget. In an effort to run an efficient operation, businesses may utilize a number of tools to better manage projects such as asset and fleet tracking solutions, navigation products, custom maps and devices to streamline communication between the field and the office.
While these tools are key for ensuring projects run smoothly, if they aren’t working together, businesses are losing a great deal of value of what they paid for. Different systems and solutions that are not integrated simply mean more hassle for contractors.
To solve this issue and appreciate the full value of purchased solutions, businesses in the oil and gas pipeline industries should shop for a one-stop platform. Luckily, this can be found in a comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution. Contractors should look for a GPS fleet tracking offering that allows them to integrate all of their tools and maps into one platform, streamlining operations and providing additional insight to the location of both employees and assets.
For the pipeline industry specifically, businesses can greatly benefit from selecting a GPS fleet tracking solution that allows contractors to use a local web map service (WMS) and overlay Geographic Information System (GIS) maps onto existing maps. This integration allows for oil and gas companies to align their GIS mapping technology with the GPS fleet tracking solution. As a result, managers can protect and leverage assets remotely with real-time data and reporting.
In addition to providing detailed insight into operations and increasing management efficiency overall, GIS overlay integration into a GPS fleet tracking solution provides data regarding employee location, equipment, traffic and routing, and weather that is actionable and further benefits operations.
In an industry where employees are driving to and from remote jobsites, employee safety is a concern and managers need to be updated on employee location. With map layering technology, managers can overlay the GPS fleet tracking maps with the detailed GIS maps for the remote locations their employees are serving.
Many companies in the oil and gas pipeline industries benefit from such a feature as the integration allows them to view detailed data, even if an employee is on a dirt road that may not be visible on a traditional map. Specific latitude and longitude points can be set up to pinpoint the vehicle’s exact location, allowing managers to be confident in the safety of the employee.
In addition, managers can validate hours worked with the ability to set up accurate geofences and zones around jobsites. This provides detailed information on arrival and departure times and mileage in and out of a zone. By setting up these geofences, a project manager is instantly notified via text or email when an operating procedure is breached, such as an employee leaving a jobsite early. In addition, oil and gas companies have found that after introducing such a solution into company operations, employee productivity often increases as there is a level of accountability across the company for accurate hours and location.
When it comes to day-to-day operations, GIS overlays from a GPS fleet tracking provider allow managers to identify which employee is closest to a job and identify the closest available equipment. The oil and gas industry can be a hectic business and a fully integrated system captures this data automatically, allowing businesses to increase operational efficiencies and quickly assign projects.
Equipment is a key asset in the oil and gas industry. These expensive trailers, tanks and pumps make operations possible and if one is lost or stolen, it not only affects the bottom line, but also hurts productivity. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2012 Equipment Theft Report, annual estimates of the cost of equipment theft vary between $300 million to $1 billion. With GIS overlay capabilities, project managers can upload points of interest in relation to the assets out on a play and view their location within one GPS fleet tracking platform.
Contractors should look for a comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution that allows for a company’s own pipelines, power grids and well heads to be overlayed across the maps that are provided from the solution. This allows managers to see precisely where equipment is located. If an asset is stolen, the overlay and the GPS fleet tracking solution can work in conjunction to provide the most accurate data point for the company and authorities to recover the equipment. This saves a contractor both time looking for the equipment and money that would be spent to replace the asset.
As an additional benefit, companies can avoid spending money on rental equipment due to unorganized inventory updates. Managers know where every piece of equipment is at all times.
Traffic and Routing Data
If employees encounter traffic congestion or other issues traveling to a job site, the entire day can be thrown off and projects can be put off track. For any business utilizing a GPS fleet tracking solution, vehicle tracking for the purposes of rerouting is beneficial. The office and the driver can be alerted if they are going to be delayed due to construction, accidents or congested roadways and the solution will provide an alternate route.
In the oil and gas pipeline industry, employees need to reach locations such as pumpjacks and tankyards in remote locations that are not easily identified on a traditional map. Managers are able overlay their specific map with the location of the equipment or jobsite to display them in relation to the roads. This displays GIS data points with the vehicle location in one view, simplifying routing if needed.
Weather is unpredictable and a dramatic change in temperature or an unplanned storm can throw off a project for the day. In addition, the equipment used in the oil and gas pipeline industries is expensive. If certain pieces of equipment are left uncovered during severe weather, this can speed up any asset deterioration, requiring additional repairs or for an asset to be replaced. Without appropriately preparing certain equipment for adverse weather, operations and a company’s bottom line can be greatly affected.
A comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution should offer overlays such as temperature, Doppler radar and cloud cover. This ensures you are aware of imminent severe weather and protect your equipment accordingly.
In addition to adequately protecting equipment, weather overlays are beneficial from an employee management standpoint. If your company works in extreme conditions, certain temperatures may prohibit work or require additional assistance. By having this actionable data automatically pulled into your GPS fleet tracking solution, project managers can be confident they don’t waste time sending a crew out to a site that can’t be worked on at that time.
GIS overlays integrated with a comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution allow companies to track every aspect of fuel use. Businesses can utilize a solution that includes modules that report on fuel efficiency, fuel loss, and fuel consumption for fuel tax reporting purposes.
Contractors should look for a solution that tracks miles driven off public roads so they are able to save on these taxes. Fuel taxes are an issue in the oil and gas industry that many others do not have to focus on, so contractors should be sure to select a comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution that can specifically cater to the oil and gas industries and offers accurate tracking for remote locations.
When evaluating GPS fleet tracking providers with GIS overlay features, businesses should also look for a solution that offers economical communication systems that work over 3G or 4G networks or via satellite, if no other signal is available. This ensures maps and data can be accessed at any time, no matter how remote the location.
GIS maps are expensive, but essential, overhead costs in the oil and gas pipeline industry. By choosing a comprehensive GPS fleet tracking solution that integrates GIS map overlays, contractors can be confident that they are getting the most out of their mapping purchases. By selecting a solution that ties in all of the company’s departments together, many aspects of operations can be streamlined, resulting in higher productivity and increased visibility.
GIS Mapping, GPS Fleet Tracking
Wyn Partington is vice president of marketing at NexTraq.
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