We recently attended the API Inspection Summit in Galveston, Texas to demonstrate our new Inspection App Product, Spotter. It was awesome! The convention center was right on the Gulf coast, and the water was beautiful.The conference was packed—there was a huge turnout, every vendor booth was filled, and there were attendees everywhere. We had a booth right in the back by the coffee, which turned out to be a great spot. Coffee goes perfectly with the giant Ambrosia King Cakes we brought to share (we made sure to bring the Mardi Gras spirit with us to Texas). We met some new friends and had a great time connecting with our friends at Versa Integrity throughout the week.
Everybody seemed to be interested in the progression of the inspection process, replacing paper tablets with mobile ones. The first day of the conference, a lot of companies came over to learn about our Spotter mobile app and discuss their business needs (we had over 50 interested companies!). Most said they were using Microsoft Excel or Word forms to capture inspection data during plant turnarounds. Generally, this means that these inspectors are capturing the data on paper out in the field, bringing it to their computer and entering it into Excel, trying to match up photos with notes and then sending that spreadsheet to someone else. That’s a lengthy, three-step process that’s inconvenient and prone to accidents and unnecessarily lengthens the duration of a turnaround. The companies we spoke with were looking for a change.
There are plenty of companies looking to overcome obstacles with tablet inspections in the plants. In the past, you couldn’t use mobile devices out in the field. Now they have intrinsically-safe cases, Class 1 Division 2 tablets and phones that allow users to walk around potentially hazardous areas with these devices safely. Because of this, mobile technology is the future for plant inspections. Plants and inspectors are definitely looking for these solutions to help them in their day-to-day operations. We ran into people who have done inspections on pen and paper for the last 20 years and they were thrilled to see how easy our application is to grasp. When people came up to our booth, they started visualizing how the software could be used in their environment and had some great ideas for how our product could help them. They loved that Spotter offers the ability to take pictures with annotations. Workers can get in and out quicker, repairs can be expedited and machines can start running again.
Some other great technologies were also represented like Google Glass inspection technology from VisualSpection, drones and robots… all sorts of cool stuff! We also enjoyed attending the various seminars throughout the week. One of our favorite talks was by GK Hills’ Elizabeth Brueckner titled Guidelines for Routine Visual Inspection by Operations Personnel. Beth talked about how a lot of the big energy companies are not inspecting their own tanks, pipelines, and other equipment often enough. Many of the problems due to overfilling of tanks.
Beth pointed out a need for refining and perfecting the inspection process. All it takes are routine internal inspections to prevent damage, save product and in turn, save money & lives. Everyone’s passion at the conference for refining the inspection process got us completely energized for our part in the changing market.
Coming from the gulf area, Envoc is pretty submerged in the industrial market. We are still learning a lot about the various industries and their inspection needs. We are learning how we can help make their businesses more successful, which is always a great thing. The overwhelming consensus is that the industry recognizes the benefits of using tablets for inspections and is steadily moving in that direction. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.