by Chris Fisichella, August 3, 2015

Affordable Communication Towers for Improved Communications in Oil Fields

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© Juanpfotografia |

I find the robust, fault tolerant communication networks offered by Redline Communications to be interesting. They specialize in providing these deployments for the oil and gas industry. The systems create smart oil fields and provide both increased safety and reliability for those who provide the oil that is necessary to drive the world’s economy. Without having to send workers into the field, the risk of injury is reduced automatically. Mr. Al-Lawati’s informative presentation is posted at that link I provided earlier. The presentation outlines some of the capabilities of the systems they sell. He also describes a problem the company is having difficultly overcoming: lattice tower construction. They cite the cost of these towers ranges from $200,000 to $1,000,0000 dollars.


A lattice tower. See Redlines’ Powerpoint and the actual tower.

Using Simulation to Make the Right Tower

When I worked in the wind turbine industry, we used lattice towers to hold up our wind turbines. Since there were so many of them, we took extra care to analyze them upfront so that both material and assembly costs were minimized. The tool back then was very similar to Simulation Mechanical. Today, Autodesk Simulation Mechanical can be used to ensure tower members are neither under-designed nor over-designed. With its direct coupling to Autodesk CFD output files, it can read in wind loading results directly. Also, seismic loading can be accurately simulated using the versatile nonlinear loading options Autodesk offers in the tool. From either or both of the structural FEA results, the tool can be used to predict fatigue failures. The towers specified by Redline could benefit from an analysis review done by Simulation Mechanical because it would allow them to remove unnecessary members, and explore other tradeoffs. A cost effective and structurally efficient tower design for a robust communication network will, in turn, help oil fields operate both more cost effectively and more safely. With correct simulation of the design, the optimum tower solution can be found without having to build multiple prototypes. With towers that are less expensive, the cost of deploying the Redline system will become more affordable for everyone to enjoy.

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