ServiceMax Maximize London - drilling for field service digital transformation at Tecpetrol

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan October 14, 2019
Tecpetrol needed to shift away from cumbersome paper-based ways of managing sub-contractors in the field.


Tecpetrol is the type of organization that might well be classified as a typical ServiceMax customer. An energy company dedicated to the exploration, production, transportation and distribution of hydrocarbons as well as power generation, the firm currently provides 13% of Argentina’s total gas production, as well as operating across other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Venezuela.

The organization until recently had been heavily paper-centric with sub-contractors receiving firms and work orders to assign and complete jobs. At the end of a working day, these contractors - and Tecpetrol uses a lot of them, over 1000 firms over the past two years - would file reports on their hours worked and parts used, reports which would then have to be checked by the firm’s full-time supervisors.

That was clearly a cumbersome way to work, involving processing daily paper reports that often contained errors that needed correcting. At the end of the month, head office would have to deploy admins for 2-3 days to proof reports for accuracy and even then there was a lack of control over optimising third party contractor performance and utilisation. Contractors could be in the field for weeks at a time with Tecpetrol having no real view of hours worked, jobs completed etc.

Pablo Fichera, IT Project Manager & Head of Applications (HR, HSE, Field Services) for Tecpetrol, says that effective field service management is essential for the firm, but that simple statement is actually rather more complicated in practice:

Not every field service program is exactly the same. As we have conventional and non-conventional oil and gas fields, the management is slightly different.  I think that Tecpetrol is unique because it seeks to be efficient and cost-effective. On the other hand, we have to continue improving our work planning, and information collection in real time to make the correct decisions four our activities.

He adds:

Our challenge was to digitalize the work order management and service entry sheet process to discard the use of paper in all our sites. Prior to ServiceMax, each third party used to receive all the work orders in paper for filling up. At the end of every day, they used to elaborate daily reports of time and materials employed on the site. Then, Tecpetrol supervisors used to validate and sign the third party daily reports to make sure the work was done and ready to be paid.  This process had a very high manual intervention, thus consuming much time.

There were other considerations to be factored in, he explains, citing the importance of cost management and the need to ensure that every technician or engineer assigned to a job on behalf of the company has the appropriate skills and certifications for security and safety purposes.  That last point is crucial as the range of service activities offered by Tecpetrol is extensive, including electrical-mechanical and instrumental maintenance, inspection, liquid and solid transportation, or well testing.

ServiceMax deployed

The decision to use ServiceMax came after consultation with Gartner and a bake-off with ClickSoftware, now part of Salesforce. The selection was based on ServiceMax’s vertical market knowledge, ability to integrate with other systems - there are 20 points of integration with SAP - and its Internet of Things capabilities.

Fichera recalls that there were two principal goals:

The first one is to enhance the service entry sheet in terms of reducing time in the process and controlling the service in the field. The second goal, is to improve service planning and mainly workforce productivity. The first objective was accomplished, because we have reduced the service entry sheet to 50% in some services, for example drilling and completion services.

Furthermore, we were able to firstly discard the use of paper for the daily reports in order to upgrade the field services work traceability; Second, reduce the daily report authorization time And finally, standardize the details in the daily reports.

We have also another important topic: work force cost management. For us, it is crucial to be efficient and cost-effective, in order to improve our work planning and human resources administration. 

Tecpetrol when live with the first phase of its ServiceMax deployment almost a year ago, part of a wider digital transformation programme known as InDY - Innovacion Digital en el Yacimiento (Digital Innovation in the Oil Field).

The goal was to modernize connectivity in oil field sites where internet was limited or not available. Wifi transmitters were installed on vehicles to receive and pass on information for technicians in the field in realtime. Fichera says:

Although ServiceMax works perfectly off-line, we wanted to have our technicians connected at all time. So we implemented wifi service in our pickup trucks. This transformed the way we now run our teams in the oil field.  In other words, we get the status of work orders in real time.

Contractors now use ServiceMax on iPads to fill out work orders and other information previously confined to paper.  The realtime nature of the solution is critical. Dispatchers can now see exactly what is happening in the field and can see at once if there are problems that need to be addressed. It also enables traceability of data to provide visibility of tasks and their average time to address. This helps to productivity comparisons among contractors as well as to identify skills gaps that need to be addressed.

And from the contractors point of view, they are now able to invoice online and be paid within 20 days, a significant improvement, which is clearly going to make them happier workers!

As for the future, the roadmap includes adding another 500 users to ServiceMax over the next six months, says Fichera:

Tecpetrol drives its operations with a focus on continuous improvement across safety, environment, and health management. To this end, the company applies the best practices to protect the physical integrity of both own staff and third parties, as well as to preserve the environment in which its projects are developed. Definitely, ServiceMax will help us out. For example, we are digitalizing the safety permissions at present; we are including controls on the work orders initiation in order to detect technicians that are not skilled for that task; finally we are working on the job safety analysis.

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