Every second counts in the oil and gas industry. Unscheduled downtime or production delays can quickly add up to millions of dollars in lost revenue. Equipment efficiency and reliability, therefore, are key.
Take the case of remote well sites employing hydraulic fracturing. A large collection of pumps, pumping equipment, storage tanks, pipes and other equipment must work closely together to maximize output. Sitting in the middle of it all are blending and chemical delivery systems from Roughneck Equipment. The company trusts Siemens controllers, HMIs and variable frequency drives (VFDs) to provide the automation, integration and communication reliability required at the well site.
Roughneck, a subsidiary of PFP Industries leases its own manufactured equipment and chemical delivery systems to oil and gas producers. Centrifugal pumps, progressive cavity pumps for pumping viscous liquids and other gear are used to store, mix and deliver sand, water and chemicals.
“This equipment is designed for turnkey operation to permit usage by a wide variety of production companies,” said Alex Yousefian, automation and controls manager at Roughneck Equipment. “It takes a high level of automation and control to achieve the perfect mix and volume to maintain costs at an economic level. That’s where Siemens comes in.”
In addition, the Roughneck equipment supplies a large number of parameters to the on-site data van. This enables operators to monitor frac pad activities, providing them with the insight needed to pump the right blend downhole at high pressure to the rock formations below.
Solving Integration Challenges
Siemens SIMATIC systems ease the many integration challenges faced by Roughneck. One site many be using aging analog wellhead control systems while another may harness the PROFINET standard for industrial networking and automation. The company must cope with whatever devices and systems are at hand.
“Well site producers have different control systems and our challenge is to provide robust control to customers without the need for custom programming or additional hardware as this saves us thousands of dollars,” said Yousefian. “Siemens SIMATIC equipment provides control and diagnostic capabilities on one cable instead of having to run multiple wires.”
Siemens S7-1200 programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are mostly used on smaller equipment such as single pump units. They feature integrated IOs, a space-saving design and an integrated PROFINET interface to enable additional automation components and the TIA Portal engineering framework to work together smoothly.
Siemens ET 200 SP CPU controllers are relied upon for more complicated pieces of equipment such as Roughneck’s FR-EZ dry friction reducer machine. Basic HMI panels are used in conjunction with the S7-1200 and Comfort HMI panels for the ET 200 SP. Harnessing PROFINET communications, these Siemens controllers simplify interaction between Roughneck equipment and whatever happens to be at the wellhead. For customers already using Siemens control systems, well site work is greatly reduced as Roughneck can reuse integration programming created for earlier users.
“Siemens SIMATIC systems help us integrate with whatever situation we have to deal with at the well site,” said Yousefian. “Their use of a robust communication protocol like PROFINET also makes it possible to connect additional hardware to the PLCs such as VFDs, flowmeters and scales.”
Siemens SINAMICS G120 VFDs, for example, are used on the liquid and dry blending machines that are a critical component of hydraulic fracturing. These frequency converters operate across a power range from 0.55 to 250 kW. They are available in low-, medium- and high-voltage versions, and offer simple connection to SIMATIC controllers as well as seamless integration into the automation environment.
Roughneck uses PLC analog cards from Siemens to provide operational data from its delivery systems to the data van. These analog output cards transmit vital information such as flow signals. The data van receives all well site data such as pressure, pump flows, chemical delivery and more.
“Most of the data transmission to the data van is done via RS232 serial communication,” said Yousefian. “The serial cards from Siemens make integration seamless.”
Remote monitoring is another feature of the Roughneck equipment. This allows operators to see where equipment is located, and stay on top of chemical usage, process values and equipment condition. Yousefian said the ability to have eyes on a piece of equipment helps the company learn how the customer is running the equipment, what changes need to be made so the machines run smoother and make things more user-friendly for the customer. Well locations, after all, are often remote.
“Being able to remotely monitor the Siemens SIMATIC systems and other well site equipment enables troubleshooting to be done over the phone instead of having to dispatch a technician for what could be a drive of many hours,” said Yousefian.Have an Inquiry for Siemens about this article? Click Here >>