Baker Hughes formed in 1987 after the merger of Baker International and Hughes Tool Company. Today, the company has annual revenues of US$6.3 billion. Corporate headquarters are in Houston, TX, and the company employs approximately 30,000 people worldwide.
Western Geophysical, a division of Baker Hughes, provides comprehensive resources for seismic exploration, field development, and reservoir monitoring and management. The division's worldwide services include seismic surveys for prospective gas and oil sites, and high-resolution 2-D and 3-D surveys for imaging exploration targets.
Mozambique: Western Geophysical Crew 767 begins a 940 km 2-D seismic project to define and expand the Temane gas field near the town of Vilanculos. The setting is a paradox. The town is near the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago, with its crystal waters, giant turtles, and regal sailfish. Yet in the bush, the crew must contend with land mines left over from Mozambique's protracted civil war as well as all matter of poisonous snakes and scorpions. The work is intense and grueling.
Syria: Crew 759 completes work on a large 3-D project in the city of Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding area. The work is complicated by the metropolitan environment of the survey site, agricultural interests, and a large river running through the exploration target. Once their work in Deir ez-Zor is completed, Crew 759 is off to the ancient city of Palmyra to undertake a 2-D surveying project for a Hungarian company.
These are just two of the many crews dispatched around the world by Western Geophysical to fulfill contracts with clients in the oil and gas industry. And, while these crews have to deal with the hardships of business abroad in often inhospitable climes, back home in Texas, someone has to keep track of the data coming in from every corner of the globe. The paperwork, though not as physically dangerous as land mines and cobras, can be almost as intimidating.
That's why John Gansert, manager of applications and systems programmers, developed a system to simplify the recording and tracking of financial records and field correspondence at Western Geophysical. Gansert oversees a virtual file room that allows Western's internal clients easy access to documentation, while satisfying government and accounting requirements for accurate record-keeping. With modern scanning and storage solutions in place, Gansert's group can effectively manage copious amounts of data coming from Western crews worldwide.
According to Gansert, a big room full of "lots and lots" of paper was the challenge faced in 1995, and the paper archive was expanding by thousands of documents a day. Though Western had already been microfilming documents for a number of years, the company was at the point where it was ready to make the switch to an imaging system. Film reading equipment was getting old, paper documents not on film were often signed out and returned with pages missing, access was difficult, and retrieval was time consuming. Additionally, because Gansert's group provides services to three Baker Hughes divisions, the sheer number of documents was becoming overwhelming.
Financial and business-related documents from around the world come to Western Geophysical's Texas location — 12,000 documents per day on average — and must be scanned and filed. These documents include client invoices, memos to and from clients, contracts, consulting agreements, orders, quotations, and much more. By implementing an imaging system, Western could quickly scan and file documents as well as allow ready access from company desktop computers, regardless of location.
In 1995, Western stopped filming and began scanning. Initially, Gansert and his team started with the Watermark FileNet system and two HP SureStore Optical 40st Jukeboxes. They have since added two HP SureStore Optical 660ex Jukeboxes and a 1200ex Jukebox. Documents are scanned and stored in the jukeboxes by division, year, month, voucher range and voucher number, creating a virtual file room. "We have an archival-type system that has a lot of data and a lot of pages, but our hit rate is relatively low compared to our scan rate. The fact is, we have to have a lot of this information for accurate record keeping and for compliance with government and financial regulations. However, we also want our internal clients to have ready access to documentation when they need it."
Western Geophysical has approximately 12 million pages online and about 200 clients who use the system, mostly accounting groups from the three divisions the Western IT group serves. FileNet software enables document management, lock-down and quality control procedures to be implemented.
A custom software component — developed by Gansert for the imaging software — supports automatic loading of CD-based documents that come from a variety of sources. Most Western Geophysical crews send their documents in hard-copy form to the Western Geophysical Scanning Department in Houston, where the documents are scanned into the system using Fujitsu 3099 scanners. Baker Atlas sends all of their vouchers to a Houston service bureau for scanning to CD. Western Geophysical's London office scans their own documents and sends CDs to be loaded into the imaging system. In all cases, the home office can accept the CD-based data and automatically upload and archive the information.
Backup and recovery operations are essential at Western Geophysical — not surprising given its extremely mission-critical data. Gansert says his commitment to his user base is a one-day recovery if the system crashes, and a one-week recovery if the building burns down. To meet that commitment, full server backups are performed every night to a StorageTek 9714 Tape Library, covering the operating system, database and disk cache. Primary optical jukebox volsets are backed up by HP SureStore optical jukeboxes after each migration of images from disk cache to optical disk. "We push a lot of platters through the jukeboxes to keep our backup data as current as possible — we are constantly cycling platters through."
With all the data storage and retrieval Western requires, as well as the extensive backup and recovery operations, Gansert said he is very pleased with the imaging and storage system now in place. He also couldn't be more pleased about his experience working with HP. "We had some initial problems with our application and were not able to use our new 660ex Jukeboxes. HP shipped us a different jukebox to use at no cost until our application problem was resolved."
With its imaging and storage system running well, Western's Information Technology Group has reduced the paperwork hazards that were affecting operations at the home office. As a result, the company can now focus more of its energies on the natural hazards that face its crews in the field, including snakes, scorpions, land mines and regional clashes. For Western Geophysical, that's business as usual.