M.G. Bryan teamed with Rockwell Automation to develop a new control and information system for its fracturing vehicles that leverages the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud-computing platform combined with the FactoryTalk® software suite for secure remote access to real-time information.
Each vehicle's control system leverages an Allen-Bradley® CompactLogix™ programmable automation controller. A cloud-based version of FactoryTalk VantagePoint software gathers control-system data to display a comprehensive and contextualized picture of vehicle and fleet performance. Information is sent to the cloud via cellular modems. Data is broken down into incredibly small packets so it can be sent even in areas with poor cellular coverage. Additionally, in the case that a connection cannot be found, data is stored in a gateway and sent once a connection is regained.
The new tightly integrated control and information system brings together disparate information sources, including historical, relational and transactional data. To fully leverage this rich data without requiring M.G. Bryan or its customers to build and manage their own data centers, Rockwell Automation utilised cloud computing.
“We needed a solution that would work the same for our first five trucks and our next 1,000 trucks,” said Josh Rabaduex, director of engineering at M.G. Bryan. “We also knew we did not want to make a huge upfront hardware investment or have to handle long-term system maintenance, so a legacy data center wasn't going to work for us.”
Using mobile technology and the secure and seamless transfer of business information over the cloud, M.G. Bryan has access to a higher degree of connected intelligence. “We can now pull data from the cloud via mobile devices and Web browsers to produce reports and dashboards on the condition of an individual vehicle's drive train and fracking performance, as well as process performance and maintenance trends related to entire fleets,” said Rabaduex. “When you combine our new information system with the flexibility and scalability of cloud computing, we've really opened the door for a wide range of operations management solutions for our own vehicle fleets and those we sell.”