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Cost Effectiveness Lessons From Oil Sands: Driverless Trucks

Comparing oil sands with regular oil can highlight challenges that the former faces daily: oil sands can be tougher on the work force and safety measures, as well as present drawbacks financially.

The separation process of oil from minerals requires additional resources and consideration towards safety measures, which is pushing the industry to develop solutions to balance out the negatives.

One such example is a driverless truck that eliminates the on-field human risk and boosts cost effectiveness of the equipment. It can work tirelessly around the clock (admittedly, with some supervision) to minimise downtime and lower the amount of needed maintenance work. Based on these reasons, it is very likely that such autonomous hauling systems will be the future of most on-field work, as seen by the ever growing robotics trend of technology in oil and gas.

While these trucks were primarily designed for oil sands, there is no real reason why they couldn’t also be extremely useful for the regular oil industry. The benefits are the same, and the trucks would perform similar tasks in both areas, which is why they could be customised to fit regular oil better. It would also be a starting point to solve the complications of regular oil, which reflect the same problems that oil sands face constantly.

The CEO of one manufacturing company, Suncor Energy, says driverless trucks are able to reduce costs while also bringing a higher degree of control over operations. They work through “margin type improvement,” which could be adapted to more areas than just oil sands.

The only downside to implementing the trucks is the requirement to install advanced wireless networks and GPS systems to ensure trucks can be monitored and controlled better. However, both of these would be on the industry’s to-do list eventually and acquiring them earlier will only bring further competitive advantage in terms of speed and accuracy.

In Dashboard’s opinion borrowing technology from oil sands can open up a trend of sharing new innovation between both oil sands and regular oil. Whilst the technological approach should be different in the later stages of oil production, concepts and ideas should not be limited to one area; the driverless trucks are a great example of this.