Managing fracturing spread equipment with multiple- sourced control systems adds unwarranted complexity to fracturing operations. Use of multiple systems requires additional training and personnel, increasing total operating costs. Equipment operators reduce the quality of communication while monitoring numerous datapoints from different equipment, increasing potential for error and safety risks.

A fleet of equipment with single-source controls allows operators to improve safety and accuracy by reducing equipment training, spare parts, personnel and rigup time required at a fracturing site. Control systems such as multipump remote fracturing controls (FCPC) and data acquisition and process unit control and monitoring (DASTRAC) from National Oilwell Varco (NOV) enable control of multiple units and monitor a multitude of datapoints per asset, including pressures, rates, stage totals, job totals, surface concentration and downhole concentration.

FCPC software

FCPC allows operators with fracturing unit controls the ability to control up to 24 fracturing units from a single user interface. This software package allows the fracturing operator to easily operate multiple pumps from the data van. The package offers a complete library of transmissions and engines. Compatible with a large range of equipment, the system gives operators flexibility to install on fracture pumps from any manufacturer, including those with the most current Tier 4 engines and the latest transmissions to the fully mechanical fractures without an electronic control module and manual electric transmissions. The interface allows a single operator to control the entire fleet of fractures without having to differentiate engine, transmission or pump type.

In contrast, when using multiple control systems, the service company must decide whether to run multiple individual remote boxes or myriad multipump controls in the data van. Using remote boxes to control several fracturing pumps requires multiple operators trained in different control systems, which often cannot be set up in a data van because of space constraints. The treater then must communicate via radio to multiple operators in a noisy environment, increasing potential for errors.

The operators control each pump individually, creating a delay in critical shut-down situations. Running multiple multipump controls from a van is possible, but this method increases the risk of operators inadvertently clicking on the wrong parameter during the job. In contrast to operations where one operator is required for every four to five pumps with different control systems or multiple multipump controls, a single pump operator can control FCPC in a data van next to the treater, reducing noise to allow clearer, improved communication, increasing accuracy and further improving site safety. By default, reducing the number of required personnel decreases operational costs and increases efficiency in training a select group of qualified operators.

The system increases efficiency during stage changes or shutdown by enabling users to increase or decrease the pump rate across individual, groups or global fractures in a single action. Operators have the ability to view event history and log userdefined datapoints. The system also records alarms by asset number, alarm parameter and value, and it allows post-job review and troubleshooting. Since the system is designed to work seamlessly, the FCPC data stream may be easily combined with DASTRAC III software for a single data file.

This data van outfitted with FCPC and DASTRAC III allows the fracturing operator to easily operate multiple pumps from the van. (Source: NOV)

 

Software logs fracturing data

DASTRAC III provides operators the ability to communicate with and control process units equipped with NOV Rolligon controls and log the fracturing spread process data. With an easy setup, the software allows increased data capabilities with configurable user-defined dashboards. The system enables job profile setup, system configuration, channel setup, input channel configuration and proportional-integral-derivative setup from a single interface instead of requiring users to make changes on each individual process unit.

Serial data and DASTRAC are available on each unit, but they are not necessary when using NOV control systems. With these controls, the operator selects the datapoints to record without the need to map each individual datapoint, reducing the chance for error during nonstandard control setup. The job profile setup allows operators to create an unlimited number of sand stages with options to stage manually or by any rate and total. Operators may save job profiles ahead of time and have the ability to copy and paste to and from a spreadsheet. When the company man requests a change, the treater can make changes directly from the van without the need to communicate to the operator.

This increases data capabilities by allowing users to log all sensor and process data from Rolligoncontrolled units and any data via serial communication from competitors’ controls. System integration allows management of more than 800 parameters; monitoring of suction rates between the blender, hydration and liquid additive system; and ability to share the wellhead pressure(s) with the fractures. The system also allows serial input and output, custom calculation channels and custom totalizer channels. Users may custom-calculate minimum, maximum and average per stage and view data in a report or export to a .csv file.

With a single-control solution for all the process equipment, which includes the blender, chemical injection, hydration and dry additive units, operator training is simplified with common intuitive screen layouts.

Other benefits include faster rigup time, spare part reduction and increased safety. Rigup time can be minimized with plug-and-play unit-to-unit communication. Spare controls are reduced by using common hardware that is interchangeable between different units. Equipment, fracture site and operator safety increase when all personnel are trained on a single solution vs. multiple different software packages.

Single-source controls increase accuracy by allowing users to monitor rates and pressures from one common software suite, reducing human error when connecting equipment. The software enables the monitoring of a typical fracturing spread consisting of a data van, fracturing units, fracturing and multifracturing sanders, blenders, hydration units, dry additive mix units, and chemical injection units via a data van, giving users the ability to aggregate the data to a single job file. Consolidating controls in one location increases safety and reduces required personnel, contributing to overall costs savings.

A complete package offering ensures that all systems will communicate with each other and incorporate similar control logic and appearance, giving operators familiarity with numerous systems after being trained on one.

The next step that can be introduced with a singlesource control system is a fully integrated Big Data solution. This allows basic data manipulation, data trending and asset tracking for all outfitted assets. With the addition of an integrated asset maintenance system, predictive and condition-based maintenance can be unlocked for incremental cost savings.