By Joanne Liou, associate editor
In the movement toward automation, Cameron is helping to develop a depalletizing robot to automate the mud-mixing process during drilling operations. It is part of a multi-company project working toward automating mud-mixing along with real-time monitoring of drilling fluid parameters, Katarina Kjelland, vice president of products & technology, mud operations for Cameron Sense, explained. The AutoMix project addresses “automatic chemical mixing based on the input from real-time measurements” of parameters, such as density and temperature, she said at the 2013 IADC Advanced Rig Technology Conference last week in Stavanger, Norway.
AutoMix incorporates monitoring equipment, such as an automatic electrical stability meter and an automated rheology analyzer. The depalletizing robot is fed directions from a recipe, and “the robot itself acts on the recipe so he knows that you pick up two bags of this, three bags of this … and feeds it to the machine over a period of time,” Ms Kjelland said. “The system can take up to six pallets, and it feeds two sets a minute.”
The robot has an integrated vision system to read the different pallets, as well as an intelligent learning mechanism. “This robot is very flexible. Once you use it for one application, it’s easier to use it on other applications, as well,” she explained. Although a mud engineer is still necessary to interpret, monitor and provide the recipe to the mixing system, Ms Kjelland noted that algorithms are being developed to automate that process.
DesignPilot is a separate project that Cameron has undertaken and incorporated into the development of drilling fluid systems. It focuses on the study of user practices and needs, including unacknowledged or latent needs, and using the results to innovate long-term projects. “User-driven methods is a systematic approach to the development of new products or services based on the study of users,” Ms Kjelland said. The first step is insight – “go out and get as much information about the users, the environment and the operation.” In the case of drilling fluids, Cameron analyzes who is involved in the drilling fluid process, what is the goal, how is the equipment used and for what is the equipment used.
Users are engaged through interviews, observations and workshops, and data is compiled into flow charts for each mud-mixing system. “It’s the basis for long-term product development,” she said.