Microsoft Customer Case Study

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Transforming paper-based workflows into the digital age to save millions in oil and gas industry

Companies use SEE Forge to create digital workflows that replace traditional paper-based forms, for everything from safety inspections to production rounds. Anyone in the organization can create forms and workflows with the application’s drag-and-drop technology, helping reduce the burden on IT. In addition, SEE Forge delivers real-time data visualization and reporting and integrates with existing back-end solutions to enable more complex analysis.

Our vision is to transform traditional industries by automating workflows with our mobile-first platform.

Transforming paper-based operations

The oil and gas industry has a process for everything: conducting safety inspections, production rounds, asset inspections, maintenance requests, allocating tasks, and so on. In fact, oil and gas operators interact with an average of 17 different processes every day—and most of these processes are paper and Excel based. “Companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate ERP solutions, but field operations are still done on paper. Because of that, the field data that executives need is typically unavailable, inaccurate, or requires an incredible amount of resources to produce,” says James McDonough, Co-Founder and CEO of SEE Forge. “We make the workflows they use on a daily basis extremely easy to follow in the field from our FAT FINGER app and help executives gain insights from those workflows to make better data-driven decisions.”

SEE Forge transforms inefficient, paper-based field processes into intuitive and informative digital forms. “Many workflows do not fit in an enterprise system; they fit on paper and are forced into Excel. This obviously creates data silos and often results in each region or team using a different process. It’s a nightmare,” says McDonough. “With SEE Forge, we can take those paper and Excel workflows and put them on an offline-capable, native, mobile client with built-in data visualization.”

A traditional process might look like this: An employee spots a safety hazard on the job site. The form for reporting that issue is somewhere in the employee’s truck parked off-site. If the employee has time, he finds the form and fills it out. Next, the employee must turn in the form to his supervisor, who is on the other side of the job site. The supervisor often takes weeks to review a form and re-enter it into the computer for corporate review. Weeks later the safety risk could still be outstanding, or it could have been “resolved” with a short-term, noncompliant solution.

SEE Forge completely changes this process. All field employees can access relevant workflows on their mobile devices. Each form is a series of smart checkboxes and text fields where workers can easily enter data. Employees can also take pictures, draw on them to highlight risks, and then add them to a form. After a worker completes a form, the data is uploaded to a Microsoft Azure SQL Database in the cloud. The data is then available through a Windows 8 desktop client that delivers real-time reporting, visualizations, dashboards, and workflow notifications. “Because the data is electronic, the company can create visualizations so executives can see what’s going on in the field,” says McDonough.

Rapidly delivering advanced technology

Non-IT people in the organization can easily create workflows, or what SEE Forge calls a FAT FINGER App. “Using the simple drag-and-drop interface in SEE Forge, users can instantly automate a process and deploy the workflow to their team. This empowers people throughout the organization to create workflows for their specific operations and lessens the burden on IT,” says McDonough.

Workflows can be created and assigned to specific people or teams based on their role in the organization, reducing the clutter of paper forms. “SEE Forge delivers value quickly. Sometimes even in the very first meeting with the customer, we can develop a working solution they can deploy across the enterprise,” says McDonough. The SEE Forge mobile app, available for Windows desktop, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android stores the forms assigned to each user, so users can complete them anywhere, anytime.

SEE Forge provides open APIs and SDKs so that IT can easily integrate the app into existing back-end systems. Companies can use the APIs to create workflows based on field data. For instance, safety reports could automatically generate work orders to repair damaged items.

Alerting employees in the field

In addition, companies can build notifications into their FAT FINGER apps to recognize hazardous situations. For example, if an employee enters a value outside of a specified range for a particular workflow, the app will alert the employee. “SEE Forge helps employees do their jobs more consistently and efficiently, which lowers the potential for on-site safety or production issues,” says McDonough.

SEE Forge also improves the efficiency of field employees. “Field staff tend to spend a lot of their time re-entering data and doing administrative work, which they hate. With SEE Forge, companies no longer have their expensive field resources spending their time on such tasks, which helps reduce costs and optimize field operations,” says McDonough.

Benefitting from less paper, more data

SEE Forge makes the field worker’s job easier and safer while giving business leaders the data needed to make strategic decisions.  “The benefits go much deeper than reducing paper. For example, from a production standpoint, if companies do not have real-time data of their production rounds—or know how or where their assets are working—then they could easily be wasting millions of dollars and risking the safety of their people,” says McDonough.

The real-time data visualization and reporting capabilities built into SEE Forage help bring field data to company executives. “Our vision is to transform traditional industries by automating workflows with our mobile-first platform. Industries are faced with never before seen pressure to lower operational costs and prove they have real-time condition monitoring systems to ensure everyone goes home safe,” says McDonough.

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Posted in digital oilfield, Enterprise mobile strategy, oil field apps