New venture yields mobile inventory management system

A new offshore inventory management system based on mobile computing and barcode technology is set to be rolled out across a range of operated platforms in the North Sea, after the successful completion of a pilot project.

A partnership between SAP consultancy Absoft and mobile/ AutoID solution specialist Arnlea Systems has delivered a mobile data system that automates the processes used to track the movement of materials between onshore and offshore sites.

Handheld computers with integrated barcode readers are used by personnel to read barcodes attached to all material items to identify the items and capture details of transactions performed on them. This information is transmitted automatically via a docking station into SAP, where it is integrated with other relevant logistics and maintenance data and business processes. Automated processes for goods receipts, goods issue, physical inventory and returns processing have been incorporated into the solution in order to simplify these processes, reduce processing times and ensure accurate inventory levels to support the operations. 

The pilot project was undertaken with international drilling contractor KCA Deutag on behalf of its client CNR International – and the system is now to be extended to all five of CNR’s operated platforms in the North Sea, for which KCA Deutag provides drilling operations and maintenance services including procurement, shipping and inventory services.

The new venture between Absoft and Arnlea is being unveiled this week at the Intelligent Energy 2008 conference in Amsterdam.  Absoft Managing Director Ian Mechie said: “We’ve worked closely with Arnlea on this project, leveraging our respective areas of expertise to create a system designed to address a specific customer need. The solution provides much greater automation of site inventory processes, greater visibility of inventory data for SAP users and more accurate inventory control. It’s also a scalable solution that can accommodate multiple sites and customers. I’m delighted that the solution is now proven in the field, and look forward to collaborating with Arnlea on further mobile projects.”

Kevin Boyd of Arnlea adds “Users of SAP are looking for cost-effective ways to get the most from their existing SAP investments. Poor quality data affects all systems, including SAP. However, by combining our joint expertise Arnlea and Absoft are delivering lowrisk, high-value solutions to feed SAP with high quality data collected during equipment and material operations. The success of this project is yet another example of the competitive advantage that end users can gain.”

Arnlea was responsible for the mobile solution, customising Arnlea’s existing mobile software to exactly meet the customer requirements. Robust barcodes attached to individual items are scanned to automate the processes associated with tracking the movement of materials between onshore and offshore sites, to ensure accurate physical inventory management. Barcodes are also attached to storage bins, enabling the bins and their contents to be scanned to improve physical inventory processes.

Absoft and Arnlea jointly collaborated to develop and test the realtime data interface between the mobile solution and SAP software. Absoft was responsible for the SAP development work required to ensure effective integration between Arnlea’s mobile solution and KCA Deutag’s system. Absoft has already partnered with KCA Deutag to implement SAP globally across the company for finance, human resources, plant maintenance and materials management.