7 Use Cases for Wireless Technology in Oil & Gas

July 26, 2016 - 3 Comments

I often meet with customers about the first and easiest way to use IoT in an industrial domain: by deploying wireless technology.

There is a lot of variety of Radio Frequency (RF) technologies being used in the industrial domain ranging from ZigBee to WirelessHART to WiFi to LoRa to LTE, etc. Unfortunately there is not a ‘one size fit all’ solution. When Cisco looks at this issue, we make sure our architecture supports all types of RF technology and will support future technology as well.

We have identified 7 main Oil + Gas use cases for the deployment of RF technology (especially WiFi):

Wireless Bridging

This is the most straightforward deployment of ‘point to point’ wireless connectivity. If a new area of an industrial site needs to be connected to the rest of the infrastructure of that location, it is more cost effective to do this wirelessly instead of running expensive cable runs to these (often) remote locations.

Mobile Workforce

This enables the workforce to bring wireless tablets and handheld bar code readers into the field to do regular and simple tasks in an online and automatic manner instead of using the ‘pen and paper’ way of working.


Wireless Sensors and Instrumentation

The deployment of more sensors providing more frequent readings with more data is becoming standard due to wireless technology. The time it takes to deploy these sensors (no cable runs needed) at multiple and changing locations has been dramatically reduced.

Personnel Health and Safety

The mobility aspect of wireless connectivity makes it possible to monitor the environment the worker is in. Are there dangerous levels of gasses in the area the person is in? Are there leaks or spillages of dangerous goods? By combining portable gas meter and active RFID tags for location determination, these health and safety issues can be addressed. Here’s a video of the demo we gave at this past Cisco Live:


This refers to deploying wireless sensors to monitor vital characteristics of expensive and crucial equipment (valves, pumps, etc.) continuously or with very frequent intervals. This lowers unplanned downtime significantly and saves up to 60%-70% of man-hours needed for inspecting.

Physical security

Access control, asset, and people surveillance in large and remote industrial facilities can be implemented cost effectively using wireless technologies like cameras and card readers.

Asset Location Tracking

Inventory, supply chain operations, and material management reduces the NPT (non-productive time) caused by searching for missing assets.

Once your wireless connectivity platform is in place, other solutions can make use of the wireless infrastructure. For example, hand-held radios and push-to-talk systems (Cisco Instant Connect) can be integrated with IP-based communication like telephones, Telepresence, and other video conferencing systems.

For more Connected Oil and Gas solutions, visit our website.

To take a deeper dive into these macro-economic developments, read our latest whitepaper “A New Reality for Oil & Gas” and visit our webpage www.cisco.com/go/oilandgas for the latest updates.

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  1. Only with the wireless technological advancement, it is possible to drill large oil wells without any loss to mankind. And according to my opinion dependency on this technology is good because where human can’t reach only the machine can reach there.

    • Very true, for (autonomous) mobile work wireless is of course essential. To do it in a manageable and secure manner opens up many more business cases, also those where humans only play the (remote) operator role and machines do the dirty and dangerous work. thanks.

  2. Number 8:
    The incredible efficiencies gained and cost saving advantages of Small Cell technology in down, mid and up steam processing. Cisco Small Cell “fills the gaps” in macro cell coverage.

    Petro Chem processing companies can now plug the holes in cell coverage from their tank farms to their platforms to their corporate offices.

    Cost savings over deploying a
    DAS system? Oh yes, big time! Small cell APs go only where you need them.

    What about repeaters, amplifiers, those are cheap and easy!? That only helps signal (not capacity) and is subject to carrier approval or they may shut it down. Well, what about asking the carrier to put a cell tower closer to my area? HAH! Sorry, but unless you have several thousand clients that will be hitting that tower you probably will not see any love from your carrier.

    Other advantages? Well, how about ditching your proprietary Motorola radios and that pricy spectrum it rides on? By deploying 4G small cell and WiFi in your environments you can switch personnel from LMR to (ruggedized) smart phones and open up a whole new world of possibilities with mobile apps for the field. From geo-positioning man-down personal safety apps, video calls, to simple text. Whatever you need.

    You now have a solution for “coverage” and “capacity”.