There are many facets of the immense oil and gas industry, thus, providing many opportunities for those seeking to thrive in this industry. SPOC Automation acknowledged this opportunity and rose to become the largest independent artificial lift controls manufacturer in North America. SPOC engineers and packages artificial lift controls and automation technology that increase production of gas and oil, lower lifting costs, and save energy for their customers. Located in Trussville, AL, SPOC Automation works with customers all across the United States and the world. SPOC Automation is a valuable addition to the MIS program’s company repertoire and they are currently sponsoring two projects divided amongst two separate teams. The projects consist of a Product Configurator project and our assignment, the Well Optix project.
SPOC Automation produces variable frequency drive solutions for their customers. These solutions include the ability for a customer to control the lifts remotely. In order for this remote control functionality, each lift must connect to a modem that has a data carrier. The data carrier, depending on the geographic region, bills SPOC Automation for the data usage of each modem. SPOC Automation must keep track of this information, including whether or not the modem is powered on and active or inactive. This is important to track because they bill their customers based on modem activity and the information they have recorded. Once a month, SPOC Automation has a single employee handle the hectic, week-long process of manually generating invoices for their customers.
SPOC Automation’s current system for tracking data and invoicing customers is extremely inefficient. They lack a centralized location for storing and tracking their necessary data: well, data plan, company, modem data usage information, and well incident data. Without a centralized location of their data, SPOC Automation faces potential profit loss caused by paying for inactive modems when they should have billed a customer for that modem. In addition, potential profit loss can occur through human error of the manual generation of data usage invoices and the time it takes to generate the customer invoices.
In order to reconcile these issues that SPOC Automation is facing, our team is constructing a solution that implements a system to track well, data plan, company, modem data usage information, and well incident data in a centralized location for enhanced data management. The solution will also generate a report of discrepancies between the active/inactive modem statuses of incoming data files and the modem statuses stored in the master database/centralized location. This will ensure the timeliness of error resolutions for accurate billing. Finally, the solution will automate the invoicing process and conserve resources for the company that previous took an employee at least a week.
Because we are an Agile-methodology team, our team has been working close with SPOC Automation through weekly meetings and daily standups. They are currently in the process of transitioning to the Salesforce.com platform for customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). This transitional process was critical in our decision to construct an application on top of the Salesforce platform that would still satisfy the needs of SPOC Automation. Salesforce is a powerful CRM tool that is becoming more prominent in companies regardless of the industry. Thus, we felt that we could simultaneously accomplish creating a satisfactory solution for SPOC in Salesforce and garner a unique technical skill of developing with the Salesforce environment.
This semester’s project has been a unique experience due to the fact we were forced to learn a new environment and two new programming languages to complete the project. The initial learning curve was steep, but we each now can consider ourselves proficient in a skill area few other Capstone teams have had the opportunity to work in.
SPOC Automation – Well Optix
- Faculty Sponsor: Richard Doherty
- Project Manager: Craig Fulda
- Team: Brendan Dunham, Morgan Holtzclaw, Jordan McArdle, Anna Pallme, Donald Solomon