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Managing mobile workflows in construction, mining, and energy – Connect Silicon Valley 2017


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Speakers: Satish Penmetsa and Krishna Kunam, rapidBizApps

Mobile devices are rapidly gaining traction in historically “late adopter” industries such as oil and gas, renewables, mining, and construction. Because of their risk profiles, these industries have traditionally been characterized by the extensive use of paper-based forms and checklists to track equipment and workplace status, and to thereby ensure that personnel are conducting activities safely and effectively.

Day-to-day operations within such industries are often conducted in areas where wireless connectivity is limited and/or intermittent. Traditional applications that require constant connectivity are therefore not a good choice for such workflows: in some cases, they can
even lead to a reversion to paper-based methods, negating the advantages of mobile solutions.

In this presentation, we describe rapidInspect, a forms-based mobile workflow management solution for use in rugged, remote field locations. Using Couchbase as its online/offline database with built-in redundancy and eventual sync, rapidInspect facilitates robust data transfer across multiple devices in network-poor areas. The end result is reliable data entry for field operators, continual in-shift updates for supervisors, and on-demand progress reports for managers. Importantly, rapidInspect enables personnel at all levels to rapidly adapt to deviations from plan, leading to documented productivity increases of as much as 30%.

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Managing mobile workflows in construction, mining, and energy – Connect Silicon Valley 2017

  1. 1. Managing workflows in construction, mining, and energy Satish Penmetsa CEO, rapidBizApps
  2. 2. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. About rapidBizApps • <TO BE ADDED>
  3. 3. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Mining, Construction, Energy: The Need • <INSERT WATERMARK IMAGE OF MINING SITE> • Companies in these industries each have numerous field service locations • Most of these locations have limited internet/cellular connectivity • Companies need to continually collect geology, environmental, etc. data from 1000s of assets spread out across these locations
  4. 4. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Objective <INSERT IMAGE OF OPERATORS COLLECTING DATA FROM THE FIELD> Facilitate two-way data collection to & from remote locations with limited/erratic connectivity
  5. 5. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Original Approach and Outcome • Initial Concept: Bolt on an in-house sync engine to a NoSQL database • Constraints: This approach required a major engineering effort – yet didn’t deliver the robustness and quality we knew our customers needed • Lesson: Our strength lay in building end-to-end solutions, not specific components: “we build the car, not the transmission” • Outcome: We wanted a high-quality, out-of-the-box solution
  6. 6. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Why Couchbase? • Required feature set: – Offline support – Built-in redundancy – Eventual sync • Candidates evaluated: Apache CouchDB, Google Firebase, IBM Cloudant, Amazon Data Stores/RDS – and Couchbase Couchbase was the only system that offered a robust implementation of all three desired features
  7. 7. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Solution • Standard mining/energy/construction forms available in digital format • Each form is associated with a workflow • Field services operators enter information into forms and, in so doing, step through the workflow • Managers get near-real-time* updates on operator activity * Dependent on frequency and duration of wifi connection availability
  8. 8. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Architecture On-prem: • Couchbase recommended configuration – 3 Database nodes – 2 Sync Gateway nodes Cloud: • Each mining/energy/construction customer has their own bucket – Some customers are OK with shared databases (“colo” approach) – Other customers need separation at the database level
  9. 9. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Benefits: South America mine case study Forms+workflow tool customized for use at a mine in a remote part of South America Benefits to customer: • Near-zero internet connectivity; operators perform inspections all shift • Everything syncs automatically when they enter wifi/cellular range • 4 hrs saved per operator per 8-hr shift because of digital entry and automatic syncing Benefits to rapidBizApps: • 30% faster time to market • ~25% lower maintenance costs • Easier compliance with customer’s IT group due to comfort level with proven offline/online solution
  10. 10. ©rapidBizApps.2017 - Strictly Confidential. Limited circulation only. Next Steps • Moving to Couchbase enabled us to redeploy engineering resources toward what we do best – Building the best end-to-end solution for the customer • Product is being rolled out as follows: – Multiple mine sites with the same mining customer – Individual mine sites with different mining customers – Pilot for individual field sites for oil & gas and solar customers – Pilot for individual construction sites for construction cutomers • Roadmap: – Data transfer via mesh network to speed up sync