Engage Mobilize Helps High Plains Transport Achieve New Levels of Operational Efficiency
In our article Best Practices for Oil & Gas Water Transport Management, we covered the five best practices for water transport management. In this article, we provide a hands-on perspective of how a water transport company uses Engage Mobilize to implement those best practices and achieve new levels of operational efficiency.
It’s Morning in the Bakken
It’s dawn in the Bakken oil shale play of North Dakota. As the sun’s rays gradually stretch across the landscape, Brandon Ice is already on his second cup of coffee as he sits down at his desk at the High Plains Transport office in Watford City, ND. It’s 20 degrees outside this January morning, not a bad start for a clear winter day in North Dakota.
He opens his laptop and double-clicks the Engage Mobilize icon, launching the E-Ticketing application, a key part of the Engage Mobilize OFS intelligent field management software solution.
High Plains is a fluids hauler specializing in transporting produced water from well sites to disposal facilities and clean water used in well completions to drilling sites. They serve several of the larger E&P operators in the Bakken oil shale play and many smaller ones.
“Before Engage Mobilize, I would spend most of my morning catching up on tickets, checking voicemail and fielding calls from operators calling in loads,” Brandon explained. “Today, I simply check online to see what orders for produced water are waiting to be assigned and make the loads.”
He opens the Service Provider view of E-Ticketing, the Engage Mobilize electronic field ticketing platform delivered inside his web browser. He reviews the list of waiting orders from operators on the platform and checks the routes his transports will follow today.
“The water never stops in the oil field, this is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Engage Mobilize helps me get things done faster and more efficiently. I get texts from operators at all hours and being able to dispatch from the mobile app on my cell phone means I get to spend more time with my family.”
Changing the Way Things Get Done
Engage Mobilize has changed the way High Plains manages, making the company more efficient. “We give our drivers a lot of responsibility. They own their route and take care of a lot on their own. That’s important because we are spread out across the state, from the Montana-North Dakota border to Stanley, about 80 miles away. Some of our more experienced guys create their own loads with Engage Mobilize and basically are their own dispatcher.”
A wisp of steam rises from his coffee mug as Brandon efficiently assigns each job to a High Plains transport unit, based on several factors, including proximity to the well site and availability. In approximately 15 minutes, he’s done making and assigning loads. Each driver can see his route for the day on the Engage Mobilize mobile app on his phone, complete with GPS-enabled directions to each lease location.
Brandon described how Engage Mobilize has impacted his role, “Engage Mobilize OFS changed my job. Now I spend more time managing, optimizing, and thinking about how to do things better. That leads to faster troubleshooting. Drivers feel better about their jobs, too; it gives them more responsibility.”
High Plains, like most oilfield service (OFS) companies, runs a lean operation to keep costs low and remain competitive. “We have three dispatchers. I run the disposal side focused on produced water and flowback fluids, where trailers don’t have to be specially cleaned. My counterpart handles freshwater jobs that require frac-style clean trailers for well completions. The relief person has other duties and fills in from time to time so one of us can take some time off.”
A big part of High Plains’ business is hauling produced water from well sites to disposal facilities. Many drivers have set routes based on the expected water production from each site. Newer wells producing more water are visited more often than older wells farther down the decline curve.
“Most of our produced water jobs are routine,” Brandon noted. “Before Engage Mobilize, we would get water levels from pumpers a few times a day or week, depending on the age of the well. There was a lot of paper and texting, but it is hard to transfer texts to billing. For the operators using Engage Mobilize, the mobile app automatically fills out routine lease data into the electronic tickets and the drivers just enter the volumes. Tickets are automatically uploaded to accounting, so no more paper tickets or having to text or email a photo of a paper ticket to the office.”
Winning High-Profile Jobs
High Plains is frequently called out to help with well repairs and service operations requiring fluids handling and transport. These service jobs are typically unpredictable and challenging to plan for. OFS companies like High Plains cannot afford to keep unutilized equipment on standby.
“The service jobs are really important,” Brandon emphasized. “Using Engage Mobilize on the production water side of the business makes that process almost self-managing. That means I can elevate my focus and spend more time on the service side, which is our bread and butter. We get a lot of kudos from the operators for a high-profile service job done well. The oilfield doesn’t stop for anything. If an operator calls and I can’t provide the service they need, they will call someone else. That call doesn’t stop getting made until someone takes that job. The more responsive we can be and the more often I can say ‘yes’ to a customer, then the more work we get. Our goal is to become their first call.”
Using the GPS-enabled features on the Engage Mobilize platform, Brandon can quickly locate the unit closest to the service callout and reroute the transport to the lease where the repair job is happening. He can send GPS instructions directly to the driver’s cell phone, ensuring timely arrival even if the driver has never been to that well site before.
Rerouting a water transport instead of dispatching a truck from the yard, means that the water loads it was originally assigned for the day need to be reassigned to other units. Brandon can quickly make the reassignments and update the routes using Engage Mobilize to identify where High Plains transports are located in the field.
Boosting Operational and Accounting Productivity
Brandon said drivers using the Engage Mobilize mobile app are more productive, “Let’s say a guy spends 15 minutes watching a load. While they are doing that, he would manually write the lease name, code, job type and other routine data on the paper field ticket, then input the volumes. Let’s say he does seven loads that day, 40-50 loads a week. All that time adds up.”
The mobile app fills out routine ticket data automatically, so the driver saves time and can look around the well site and find potential issues before they become problems. “On the app, you can see you are going to haul that load of water for the next five years. There’s no need to repeat writing it down all the time.”
Engage Mobilize also benefits the accounting team. Electronic tickets are uploaded automatically from the mobile app into the Engage Mobilize E-ticketing system in numerical order, making it easier to proof and spot problems, saving time. Accounting analysts spend less time proofing tickets, interpreting illegible tickets, fixing errors and resolving disputes. For hourly jobs, drivers would sometimes forget to write down the times on site. Engage Mobilize automatically puts a time stamp on each electronic ticket.
Using a customized report available to Engage Mobilize OFS Max customers, the electronic ticketing data in Engage Mobilize E-ticketing is quickly downloaded, formatted and seamlessly loaded into QuickBooks, creating invoices automatically. This eliminates manual re-keying of ticket data for invoicing, resulting in fewer errors and saving the back-office staff hours of time.
The Engage Mobilize OFS Advantage
“Engage Mobilize gives us an advantage, especially when it comes to our larger customers where we run thirty to forty loads a day,” Brandon confirmed. “The platform allows us to dispatch and do the accounting with a smaller team and it lets us provide lots of data to our oil company customers that they use to analyze operations.”
When it comes to working with the Engage Mobilize team, Brandon said, “You guys are good to work with. You listen and your team works like us.”
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