Frequently Asked Questions

Technology

  • Why solar cells? What’s wrong with batteries?

    Batteries are great. The best systems nowadays can work five years or more without a battery change. But here’s the rub: if you have 10 sensors you’ll be changing a battery about every six months. That’s annoying. If you have 100 sensors, someone is going to be changing a battery about every two to three weeks. That’s a real pain.

  • Most everything I operate is in the shade. Besides, I’m in North Dakota. Will your system be down every winter?

    No. Our devices are designed to run 24/7 in outdoor shade, rain or shine, summer and winter. Outdoor shade means almost any place with a view — even stuck in the middle of a tank battery. All systems operate down to at least -20°F.

  • Where are the antennas, and where’s the switch?

    All inside. Antennas rust, break and leak. So do switches. They also add to the expense. We’ve reduced the profile to the bare minimum – just a recessed touch switch and two powerful LED display lights.

  • Where’s the readout screen? How do I see what's being monitored?

    The readout screen is in your pocket, right on your smartphone. Even a basic smartphone is a high-resolution readout device capable of real-time remote communications. So we’ve designed our system to use this amazing tool. When you touch a sensor, it sends the latest reading to your phone within seconds. At any time, you can view all of the sensors through your smartphone’s browser or a dedicated app.

  • Your system depends on wireless communication. No thanks, if it’s like my home WiFi

    Don’t worry. It’s not like your home WiFi. First, we’re using an advanced spread spectrum technology that was only recently released for commercial use. It increases the actual real-world range many times. Next, since our gateways can be placed nearly anywhere, you can perch them up on top of a tank or beam pump where they’ll have even more range. We also have very low cost hubs (repeaters) that can greatly extend the range or cover any (rare) dead zones. Finally, with a huge amount of field testing we’ve tweaked and optimized our circuit design and firmware to provide maximum range while still using extremely low power.

  • What is the real range?

    Real-world range from a sensor to a gateway or hub is at least ¼ mile. “Real-world” means stuck in the middle of a typical production pad area crowded with tanks, separators, heater treaters, gas meter runs, compressors and whatever else you have. If there’s a clear line of sight the range is normally about a mile and considerably greater between gateways and hubs. Between gateways or hubs we routinely get a mile or more. This is a huge improvement. Even with the best of the previous technology we were able to reach only 25 to 50 yards in many cases. This means you won’t have to worry about moving gear around to avoid dead zones and blind spots.

  • I still don’t get it. Everybody else has a large base unit with a lot of gear inside, a large solar panel and antenna on a dedicated pole mount.

    The technology has changed. We’re using the latest microprocessors, cell modems, circuit components, and software – all smaller and more powerful. And by constantly optimizing the system electronics and software we’ve managed to radically reduce the solar panel footprint and eliminate the need for an external antenna. Along the way, we’ve focused on making our system easy to install, extremely flexible, maintenance-free and fault tolerant.

  • Will the sensor's plastic enclosure hold up to oilfield use?

    Yes. Wonderful things happen when you switch from oilfield steel to plastic. First of all, the enclosures are made of extremely strong polycarbonate. We’ve had systems working for years in tough weather. They don’t rust, crack or mar, and they’re still as shiny as the day they were installed. They are NEMA 4 spec, sealed with custom silicone compression gaskets. A plastic enclosure also allows us to embed the antenna, proximity and acoustic sensors. With no external antennas, brackets or mounting flanges they are about as simple and abuse-proof as you can get.

  • I’m an engineer. Are the measurements good enough for my work?

    Absolutely. We took special care to custom-design and manufacture all of our sensors, and then we optimized our firmware code to squeeze out all of the performance we could get. For instance, our standard pressure sensors are capable of 0.01% accuracy, which should be plenty for reliable drawdown and PBU reservoir analysis. This is 50 times better than standard high-resolution grade sensors. We can change the data rate to capture and stream PBU data near real-time at whatever rate you want. We also have a unique beam pump surface card and pump-off monitor that attaches magnetically anywhere on the beam*, sending real-time pump conditions to the cloud. Our unique tank fluid level monitor uses time-delay reflectometry (TDR) to deliver 0.1-inch resolution so you can observe heading and flow issues immediately. Our micro-sized flowmeter telemetry module actually fits inside a NUFLO™ or Kimray™ totalizer, sending real-time rate and daily totals anywhere you like.

Installation and Mounting

  • Where are the brackets? How do I attach your sensors?

    With magnets or tape. We use extremely strong neodymium rare earth Grade 50 magnets, the most powerful permanent magnets in the world. We’ve milled out recesses in the enclosures so they’re less than 1 mm from the exterior. When you put the devices on a tank, pipe, wellhead or compressor, they won’t come off without a very hard pull. For fiberglass or wood, or if you want extra adhesion on metal, you can use customized VHB™ double-sided mounting tape. This tape is extremely strong and all-weather resistant. We’ve had systems survive hurricanes and on top of 400-bbl tanks in south Texas summers. You can remove the tape without losing any paint or marring the surface; it’s an acrylic pad that just rolls up and pulls off.

  • I’m still not convinced. I want brackets

    Not after you see the magnets and tape in action. We’re that sure. Not only do they make the sensors quick to install, you can remove the sensors easily when you do well work or repairs. There’s another advantage to attaching the sensors this way. It’s easy to place a gateway on top of a tall tank, handrail, stairway or line. With this added height we’re cheating RF physics. It’s like suddenly getting a 20’ tall antenna without the pole.

  • How do I set up the sensors?

    Place them on a tank or line, push the recessed power button, and you’re done. When you turn on the sensor it finds the nearest gateway or hub and sends a startup message. This is relayed to the cloud along with the gateway or hub’s own GPS data. So the system knows exactly where the sensor belongs*.

  • If they are so small and easy to install, aren't they also easy to steal?

    Maybe, but the thieves are going to be disappointed. Since the units are registered to you and they’re password protected, they’re not going to be useful to anyone else. Also, we’ve included extremely sensitive tilt and proximity sensors in all of the devices, and they’re listening 24/7. If someone removes a unit, a distress call goes to the cloud and your phone, if you’d like.

Support

Pricing

  • Talk about pricing. Describe equipment pricing and fees.

    The equipment is inexpensive, and our fixed monthly communication and maintenance fees are very low. There are no additional transmission costs, text message costs, data storage and download costs, and no minimum contract term. We replace all faulty equipment free of charge within the first year, with overnight delivery.