Aramco claims world first for offshore personnel tracking

Offshore staff

DHAHRAN, Saudi ArabiaSaudi Aramco’s Safaniyah Offshore Producing Department (SOfPD) has launched what it claims is the world’s first jackup barge equipped with a real-time personnel location tracking system.

The technology is said to remove virtually any uncertainty about the number of crew members aboard the vessel, should an emergency arise.

In the event of an incident, the system also allows staff onshore to provide accurate crew information to coordinate a rapid emergency response with those offshore.

SofPD aims to reduce the risk of an adverse event and to be prepared for effective action when the need arises. During an emergency, Aramco says, it is critical that crew members can be found and mustered to a safe location to organize response measures, and if necessary, a quick and effective rescue.

The potential for human error in the head count typically leads to uncertainty over how many crew members are onboard the vessel, and operators may have no way of knowing where certain staff might be. It is vital, therefore, that accurate crew information be available to on-board operators and offshore personnel.

Use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in ID cards worn by crew members and visitors as they board helps with tracking and identifying those on board at all times. 

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

Master controller servers process this data, calculating location information which is then relayed to the Tanajib Emergency Control Center, where personnel use configurable maps and reports using software to track the crew.

The system generates alerts if 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. 

Aramco says advantages of the RFID system include its flexible data visualization options, the fact that it is secure from hacking and other intrusions, and its ATEX-compliant casings for outdoor installations.

SOfPD aims to implement the technology to track people, assets, and supplies on offshore facilities including unmanned platforms, boats and barges, as well as various onshore facilities.


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