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Pedigree Technologies CEO, Alex Warner, Bakken 2015 Interview Transcript
James Hahn II: Joining The Tribe on the podcast today is Alex Warner. Alex is the founder of Pedigree Technologies. Pedigree Technologies enables intelligent operations in oilfield by getting ability to track locate and monitor all of your equipment and basically coordinate all of your operations in real time. He is joining us from that the heart of the Bakken up there in Fargo, North Dakota and has graciously given us some time today. Alex Warner, thank you very much for joining us on the podcast.
Alex Warner: Thanks for having me.
James Hahn II: I’m really fascinated because we met at the Texas Showdown out in Grapevine and right away it was obvious you are very much statistic driven. I can tell that’s a passion of yours, making sure that you can track everything. Give us your story on Pedigree Technologies. How long you been around and what was the genesis of this idea?
Alex Warner: We started the company in 2004. I actually grew up on a farm in North Dakota and decided I wanted to get into the tech business. So I went to work in Los Angeles and Minneapolis and I got interested in networking technologies of the whole of technology spectrum. I did some work for Microsoft, and I worked for some some companies out of Minneapolis-St. Paul, consulting companies. I realize that we’re going to be networking all kinds of things beyond what we normally consider networking, cell phones and laptops. So we’re gonna connect all kinds of sensor-enabled things to the Internet.
Some of these things, people are aware of a brand name like OnStar. But if you can imagine OnStar for generators. OnStar for mud pumps. OnStar for frac tanks. So that we can basically get information through the web through wireless technologies into cost-effective hardware technologies. To understand where our equipment is, how it’s running, where our people are, and coordinate our operations.
We started to build system software that would do that, and it caught the attention of the Department of Defense. We had some prototypes we had delivered in various industries. They called and said, “We could really use this. It’s a new kind of approach to how we can use sensing technology to understand operations better.” We ended up working for NavAir for a division that was more on surveillance in which they called this kind of technology “sense and respond operations”, or “sense and respond surveillance”.
We built a system that would connect to UAV drones to unattended battlefield sensors out in the field that look like rocks, and to sensors on war fighters and soldiers. We pulled that into what they call “common operating pictures” so they can see what’s going on. And if there’s any problem areas we can send some guys to check it out without having to have soldiers up and on borders in the most remote areas.
We did that for the military for a number of years, and then we took that technology and we transitioned into several sectors, one of them being oil and gas; upstream, midstream, as well as downstream. It was such a perfect fit because the complexity of the oil and gas operations in coordinating efficient cost-effective highly coordinated operations is one of the goals, as well as very safe operations in oil and Gas. This technology is a perfect fit for that market.
James Hahn II: You have certain information that I can’t ask you about or I’ll get the CIA at my door, is that pretty much it?
Alex Warner: Yeah, we had to get secret clearances and all that stuff, but the good news is we got military grade technology that was brought to the oil and gas sector without military grade prices.
James Hahn II: That is exactly what I was thinking because I know from the 4.5 years that I’ve spent here in this industry that security is going to be the number one obstacle that you have to overcome if you’re selling a mobile if you’re selling any sort of mobile device, or any kind of thing that doesn’t plug directly into a wall. Security is always a concern. So, when people say military grade I have no idea what that means. Is there a so it is there in layman’s way to break down how secure your technology is?
Alex Warner: The technology is fairly secure. I don’t think you can ever stop looking for security, but we use a combination of different wireless and satellite technologies as well as hardware and software technologies that allow for secure information of data moving from the field to the back office and to people out in the field. And then delivered in such a way where we can prevent against, the usual suspects are denial of service attacks and another kinds of things that may slow down a system and render it inoperable. We had to learn those techniques for the military because they need systems that are working all the time and that’s just one component of what we do, but we deliver it to the commercial sector.
We’re primarily concerned, in addition to making sure people’s data is secure, of using the data and turning it into usable information so people can make operational decisions and be very efficient in the way they run their businesses from day-to-day.
James Hahn II: What’s an example of that? Break that down.
Alex Warner: The solution that we just built with a company out of Canada called Titan Logix. Logix makes a tanker trailer sensor that can go into any tanker trailer for crude, water, and waste and chemical to monitor the levels to make sure that people are not having to run up and down to check tanks in the middle of icy North Dakota weather, or any other areas. And then make sure we understand how much fluid is moving and how much getting pumped out. So we integrated a hardware device into their sensor. We can monitor wherever that tanker is. How much is getting pulled into the tanker. Whether there’s any alarms are notifications on overflow. Whether there’s any inappropriate alarm where someone maybe is doing an authorized dump. And track that liquid, that crude, whatever it is moved to the supply chain. And calculate how much fluid is moving in and out from a precision liquid management supply chain both for upstream and midstream purposes.
James Hahn II: When we’re talking about supply chain management what is the main problem solving for? Is it in terms of cost reduction? Is it in terms of securing assets? When someone engages engages the company what are the types of of pain points that they are typically coming to you for?
Alex Warner: Most people want to figure out how to manage their operations on several different quadrants. How can we move equipment from point A to point B efficiently? How am I utilizing our equipment so we can monitor utilization? Maybe I’m a hot shot and I got 50 flatbed trailers and 10% my trailers are dormant most of the time. Maybe I don’t need those. We can monitor the usage of it. We can do maintenance of it. Those operational issues.
Safety. Security. Efficient coordination of assets and people. Efficient precision management of liquids. We even have, in addition to getting data from all this fixed and mobile equipment, like a mud pump. How’s that? Is the mud pump operating correctly?
We also have dispatch and mobile apps to be able to do things like electronic tickets. Or even have the sensor auto-calculate how much barrel, volume is moving out a tank. We’ll monitor fixed tanks and then automate the amount of crude that’s moving to transactionalize that and get that off in an electronic ticket or a bill-waiting. To pull that back into the back office and keep everything flowing nicely with a limitation on any human error or confusion in the field.
The rest of the transcript will be posted this afternoon.