Helping Workers Track Down Lost Machinery in Snowy, Wide-open North Dakota Oil Fields

Wireless machine-to-machine technology helps monitor equipment.

By on December 2, 2014

As the North Dakota oil industry continues to boom, surpassing 1 million barrels of oil production per day, new companies to service the oil industry are also growing quickly. SM Fencing and Energy Services, founded in 2006  by Seth Murphy with just one employee – a cousin – has now grown to around 100 employees.

“We provide a myriad of different services to our oil field clientele – from installation of barbed wire fences around oil field locations to emergency spill response, secondary containment systems and the list goes on,” said Aaron Marxen, the company’s controller and chief financial officer.

At midday, the parking area at SM Fencing and Energy Services in Dickinson, N.D. is quiet. But in the mornings and evenings, heavy equipment rumbles in and out from the Bakken Oil Fields in western North Dakota. In just eight years the company’s equipment assets have doubled, providing management challenges, especially during the winter when equipment is staged throughout the oil fields in order to quickly respond to a snow emergency.

“At the tail end of winter last year, we found ourselves in a situation where we could not locate one of our pieces of heavy machinery, a pay loader,” said Marxen. “Unfortunately, no one could remember where they left it.”

After that, SM Fencing and Energy Services installed Verizon’s Networkfleet management system to track and monitor equipment. The system uses GPS-enabled vehicle tracking with telematics technologies to transmit data over Verizon’s wireless network, allowing Marxen and his team to manage the company’s equipment from a secure website.

“Networkfleet has allowed us to be more efficient with our use of equipment,” said Marxen. “When we receive an emergency call, we are able to find out what the nearest assets are, who the nearest employees are and dispatch accordingly.

Marxen also says the company has reduced mileage and better maintained their vehicles with the diagnostic information. And, with snow falling again, the company is prepared. “One of the major attributes of Verizon’s Networkfleet is that it works off of Verizon’s cellular network and therefore even in a remote place such as North Dakota’s oil field, we have very good coverage.”

Karen Smith is a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless. Follow her on Twitter at: @VZWKaren

Tags: Verizon Networkfleet, SM Fencing and Energy Services, North Dakota, Fleets, Fleet Management, Aaron Marxen