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New tracking system improves emergency response standards


Protecting lives and reducing risk with state-of-the-art tracking technology


Looking to reduce the risk of an adverse event and be prepared to act efficiently when the need arises, Saudi Aramco’s Safaniyah Offshore Producing Department (SOfPD) has launched the world’s first jack-up barge to be equipped with a real-time personnel location tracking system.

This state-of-the-art system virtually eliminates any uncertainty about the number of crew members aboard the vessel in case of an emergency, and in the event of an incident, allows staff onshore to provide accurate crew information to better coordinate a rapid emergency response with those offshore.

Like any other industrial operation, offshore oil production has its own potential hazards. The SOfPD department’s challenge is to reduce the risk of an adverse event and to be prepared to act effectively when the need arises to protect lives and property. It is critical that in the event of an emergency, crew members can be found and mustered to a safe location to organize an emergency response, and if need be, ensure a quick and effective rescue.

The potential for human error in the head count leads to uncertainty about how many crew members are onboard the vessel, and in the event of an incident, operators have no way of knowing where their colleagues are. Because of the importance of a coordinated and rapid emergency response across both offshore and the emergency control center onshore, it is important that accurate crew information be available to on-board operators and offshore personnel.

The use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in ID cards that crew members and visitors must wear as they board achieves a significant update in tracking and identifying those on board at all times. 

How it works

The system begins tracking crew members as soon as they board the vessel, and it continues until they disembark. As barge personnel and visitors arrive onboard through the helideck or gangways, they are issued passive, battery-free RFID cards. These cards are read at checkpoints as personnel and visitors move around the facility.

Meanwhile, master controller servers process that data, calculating location information. That information is then relayed to the Tanajib Emergency Control Center, where personnel use configurable maps and reports using software to track the crew. The system then generates alerts when the barge exceeds its total manning capacity.

RFID readers at key points establish zone-level location of personnel. These points include gangways, doorways, stairs, and elevators on all decks except the helideck. 

Why this system?

The RFID system has several advantages that led to its selection, including its flexible data visualization options, the fact that it is secure from hacking and other intrusions, and it has ATEX (Atmosphères Explosibles) compliant casings for outdoor installations.

SOfPD has established how RFID technology can be used to save lives, and the applications of RFID-based solutions in our business appear to be endless. The technology can be implemented to track people, assets, and supplies on onshore and offshore facilities, including gas-oil separation plants, unmanned platforms, boats, barges, office buildings, and mass transportation such as buses. It can also be used to streamline our supply chain for both construction and production operations.

In addition, RFID can provide us with an unprecedented level of visibility into our operations, enabling data driven decisions. This capability brings with it the potential to enhance operational excellence, boost return on capital, improve safety, and mitigate risk. 

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