“I just wanted to tell you all how pleased I was with today's first test of the software. Once we got the software on to the PDA it worked first time. The Communication Client synchronized perfectly with the Application Server and it launched the Lab-view test harness exactly as it should. I am very happy with the way things went. I know I don't say thanks often enough but well done to all of you.”
Katherine Alan, BP Scientist
Our client wanted to reduce the time it took to analyse crude oil samples from 3 days to 3 hours to permit time critical purchasing decisions to be made earlier. This capability resulted in an estimated annual saving of US$50 million for our client.
We designed an application that enabled a PDA to work via blue tooth with a Chemical Composition Unit (mass spectrometer) to analyse crude oil at any remote location. The results were communicated via Wi-Fi to a central server using SOAP.
The first hurdle was enabling our client's oil engineers to work without constantly trying to configure the device for different Wi-Fi networks. This was accomplished by rewriting the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system (primarily the TCP/IP stack).
The internationalization challenge was solved through a software function that would automatically select the engineer's own language by automatically detecting the user and their location. Users were also given the option to select a language from English, Chinese, Spanish, German or Russian if they did not want the auto selected location based language.
The next challenge was how to retrieve results of the oil sample from the fox hub infra-red scanner; this was achieved through using blue tooth connectivity between the mobile device and the fox hub unit. Once the results were on the hand held device, it was possible to perform some simple local analysis to calibrate the oil sample against a sample of toluene.
Some additional design considerations included ensuring mobile forms were clear enough (resolution and contrast) for viewing in intense sunlight and how to cater for buttons on the screen for operators wearing bulky safety gloves.