Everyone knows how vital data has become in operating and managing a business. Data becomes the raw material for decision-making, planning, optimizing, and even strategic shifts in most large organizations. In some sectors, this reliance on data is in real-time, which means that collecting data, managing it, and accessing the insights it provides become not just essential but business-critical.

In this post, we will talk about Field Data, what it is, how it is collected, what ramifications it has for operations-heavy organizations, some of the critical challenges, and how to solve them.

What is field Data

Field Data is simply an aggregate of all the data points from the field operations. So, for example, an electricity company would involve all the real-time data from every asset and piece of infrastructure across the geography it covers. We’re talking transformers, stations, substations, wiring, utility poles, literally everything on the field.

Similarly, an oil and gas company would involve data on the status of every piece of machinery on the oil drilling facilities, the processing units, and refineries, oil tanks; including everything from the asset condition, maintenance status, repairs, part replacements, technicians assigned to specific tasks, task status tracking, etc. Only when the operations team has complete visibility of all that’s going on in the field can they make informed day-to-day decisions.

This same data criticality applies across large and operations-intensive sectors like utility companies such as telecom, utilities (electric & water), oil & gas, or even companies in environmental projects, real estate, and construction, agriculture, etc.

Why it matters

In the vast operational networks these companies operate, the chain is often only as strong as its weakest link. For example, if a valve malfunctions on an oil rig in a remote part of the ocean, it can impact several things; from a specific process line being affected to more significant outcomes like operational delays, risk of damage to life and property, breach of compliance protocols, cost escalations, and loss of productivity.

Real-time field data helps the management team with complete control on what’s going on, what and when it needs to be done. It ensures smooth operations and improves, optimizes, re-engineers, and creates synergies among the various processes involved.

Data Types and Collection Methods

So how do these organizations collect and manage such vast amounts of data daily? Usually, data is collected using methods relevant to the type of data collection needed. For example, these methods could include surveys, observation checklists, interviews with people on the ground, collecting photographs or videos of specific assets, updating questionnaires, taking measurements, or making notes regarding asset and task status.

Various tools come into play to gather such data, from simple checklists and sheets on which field technicians record data with pen and paper to cameras, measuring instruments, mobile devices, etc.

Common Challenges

Irrespective of data type or collection methods, the field team must ensure that the data is collected accurately, preserved for processing, and consolidated so that the centralized data can be analyzed and understood. However, there are several associated challenges:

  • Gathering data becomes especially challenging when the location of assets and the related fieldwork is remote, off the grid, or dangerous in one way or another.
  • Teams on the ground need to be trained and brought up to speed on the company data collection protocols and processes so that the operation is consistent, reliable, and standardized.
  • Data collection must be timely; for instance, in situations where urgent repairs are needed, timely data is vital for the operations teams to plan resources, spares, supplies, and logistics for the required tasks.
  • The data gathered can be massive and this in itself poses the challenge of being unwieldy with the risk of serious data management problems.
  • While all this data is gathered, its security and integrity must be ensured from the collection point onwards.
  • And finally, the need for meticulous collaboration between field teams, data gathering, and response teams depending on one another for seamless coordination to be possible.

Of course, the complications don’t end here. In traditional/paper and pen data gathering, the process has more potential risks.

  • Forms that are lost or damaged either in transit or back at base where they pile up
  • Unreadable notes, remarks, inputs on paper checklists and forms, leading to data omissions or, worse still, inaccurate data logging.
  • Errors while logging in / transcribing the data; this means the data captured may be accurate, but during centralized back-office data entry, errors creep in because of the human-intensive, repetitive and fatiguing process.
  • Distilling and analyzing the bulk of data within a specific timeframe where meaningful intelligence can help management act on insights drawn from the key metrics and analytics derived
  • The massive cost, time, and low productivity the manual process typifies

Overcoming challenges

Fortunately, there’s a better way.

Digital field data capture enables a seamless technology-powered process right through each stage. As a result, more and more discerning organizations are increasingly adopting such app-based digital field data collection.

Fielda’s GIS-enabled Field Data Collection App.

  • With Fielda’s intuitive app, organizations can design their own data collection forms, customize them, create the needed checklists and workflows precisely as they intend and in a way most suited to their unique operations and constraints.
  • The app’s proprietary GIS technology allows field teams to ‘see’ their assets meaningfully mapped according to their operational protocols. Also, this helps the operations team to gather data, plan work, design workflows, and manage technician teams far more efficiently.
  • Data collection is possible even from remote locations without connectivity. The data can be synced when the app is connected online, eliminating the need for laborious data input and processing.
  • And of course, this instantaneous data availability makes real-time insights possible, giving management teams the power of informed decision-making.

We can tell you a whole lot about the Fielda app, but there’s nothing like seeing it in action. So we’re happy to schedule a demo for your team. Just hit this link, and we’ll get in touch.

Dozens of large, operations-intensive companies leverage Fielda’s GIS-enabled field data collection for reduced cost, improved efficiency, and enhanced productivity. Discover how your team can reap the benefits of this powerful technology!

Try Fielda for free. Download Fielda from App Store or Play Store.