Original story by Matthew V. Veazey, Rigzone Staff | Thursday, May 05, 2016
As technologically advanced as the offshore oil and gas industry has become, in many cases it relies on something that originated in ancient China: paper. Some offshore firms still use paper forms to track field-based information such as employee payroll time sheets, vendor invoices, crew schedules, maintenance requests, storage tank quantities and safety data. Madisonville, La.-based Cleargistix LLC wants operators and service companies to turn the proverbial page on how they perform such routine tasks.
“Cleargistix views its primary competition as paper: paper service tickets, paper job safety analysis (JSA) forms, paper inspection forms, paper compliance documents, paper time records and others,” said Steven Toups, president and CEO of Cleargistix. “Paper is still the dominant method of connecting the field to the office for offshore marine vessels and for oil and gas service companies.”
Seeking to relegate paper forms to the proverbial ashbin of history, Cleargistix has developed cloud-based software applications that digitally capture field-based information via tablet computers, smart phones and other devices. It currently offers an app tailored to the needs of the offshore marine and tugboat/towboat sectors as well as a second app for offshore and onshore service companies. Later this year, it will roll out a third app geared for a broader array of service companies such as painters, landscapers and HVAC technicians. In addition, Cleargistix aims to expand into the midstream.
Cleargistix contends that making various field-based tasks paperless effectively shrinks the distance between the field and the central office because it transmits vital information instantaneously. Moreover, the company claims that its going paperless improves worker productivity, increases return on assets and shortens the time it takes to process invoices.
Rigzone recently caught up with Toups to discuss his company’s efforts to replace paper-based activity recording with a decidedly 21st century approach. Read on for his perspective.
Rigzone: Briefly, please tell us a bit about your company’s background in the offshore sector?
Steven Toups: Cleargistix LLC was founded in 2011 as NecesSea LLC with a goal of providing a data-rich software solution to the offshore oil and gas industry. The initial focus was building a marine fleet management solution followed by linking the offshore marine industry with their exploration and production (E&P) company customers. The offshore marine business is dominated by two types of companies, those that own the vessels and those that charter the vessels for use (primarily E&P companies). The company, which focused its efforts on the Gulf of Mexico, viewed both the vessel owners and the E&P companies as their customers. The company’s solutions allowed E&P customers to aggregate vessel data from numerous vessels which could be used to track activities, manage and allocate costs and increase utilization. The owners of the vessels also benefitted through the ability to generate digital billing logs, track employees and manage revenues.
Rigzone: What is unique about your applications? What do they allow users to do that they otherwise couldn’t?
Toups: Cleargistix provides a more efficient means for companies still utilizing paper and other outdated technologies to capture revenue, activity, safety, compliance, payroll and other information in the field. Cleargistix’s solutions were developed for companies that are hampered by the costly, inefficient, manual and often paper-based capture of information related to these activities in the field.
The problems with using paper to capture and transmit information from the field to the office are numerous. Paper is not smart, does not know that a new price was supposed to go into effect today, needs to be transported, gets lost, dirty and mangled, is expensive to produce, needs to be keyed in, basically documenting the same items twice, clarity is subject to the neatness of the documenter, does not know that the white copy was changed and therefore a change needs to be made to the pink payroll copy.
We believe the benefits of eliminating paper from the field information capture process and turning paper information into digital information are great and include:
- The elimination of revenue leakage due to lost, incomplete or inaccurate tickets ensures companies are capturing all their revenue.
- Because digital information does not need to be physically transported, eliminating paper service tickets cuts down on the cycle time necessary to turn a service ticket into cash.
- The cost of paper tickets themselves is significant including the cost of ticket printing, the required movement of the tickets and the entry of the tickets into the billing/accounting and other systems which essentially duplicates the documentation of a single field activity.
- Turning paper information into digital information increases the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of reviews of the information.
- One of the single largest costs of using paper tickets is the rework costs that are incumbent in the process.
Moving away from paper into a database system where the field information can be visible and leveraged also leads to increases in equipment utilization and employee productivity through greater operational efficiency and heightened situational awareness.
In a 2014 survey by AIIM, The Global Community of Information Professionals, 46 percent of respondents believed that removing paper from their business processes to be the single biggest opportunity for productivity improvement.
Rigzone: What prompted you to explore onshore opportunities for the application?
Toups: Cleargistix first explored the migration of its solutions onshore in early 2015. This exploration was driven by a combination of factors which included the downturn in the offshore marine industry driven by lower oil prices, the loss of a significant customer due to merger and acquisition activity and the ability to address a larger market by migrating onshore.
As a result, of these factors, the company began refocusing on its core technology value, a methodology and process to collect and digitally transmit information from the field (in this case the offshore marine environment) to the office. The company realized that the market for companies that could benefit from the digital transmission of information from the field to the office was much greater than the market for offshore marine vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.
During this refocusing, the company has developed a next generation “ticket” processing solution. In this metadata-driven solution, a ticket is a way to transmit information captured in the field to the office. This ticket can be configured to be a service ticket capturing revenue and activity, a JSA capturing safety information, an inspection form for capturing inspection information, a tank monitoring form for capturing remote tank quantities, a time sheet for capturing payroll information, and a multitude of other uses. This next-generation ticket processing solution forms the basis of Cleargistix’s proprietary ClearCORE engine, upon which its oil & gas service company solution and all future solutions will be based.
The company has segregated its market with three solutions which focus on its three targeted market segments. In conjunction with the refocusing, the company decided to change its name to Cleargistix (from NecesSea) to emphasize its expanded market.
Rigzone: The midstream is one area in which you’re migrating your application. How can midstream companies deploy your application, and have any midstream firms adopted it yet?
Toups: Midstream firms have similar field to the office information needs as upstream service companies, they deploy assets into the field that engage in revenue generating and related activities and need a way to capture that information in the field and transmit it to the office. The Midstream market is also largely dominated by paper-based information capture. Therefore, our flexible solutions can be utilized to capture revenue, activity, safety, compliance, payroll and other information in the midstream market. Although we do not yet have any midstream firms that have adopted our solutions, we are actively marketing our solution to midstream entities.