BP is one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies. The company operates in 70 countries around the world, and produces 3.6 million barrels of oil every day. BP also operates biofuel production facilities in South America, including sugar mills for ethanol production. The company has 7000 employees across 15 locations within Brazil alone, many of which are in extremely isolated locations.
Microsoft is an American computer software company who needs no introduction. It is one of the world’s most valuable companies, and is best known for Windows. More recently its value has soared due its heavy investment in cloud technology Azure.
BP’s ethanol plantations use a complex production process of growing, harvesting, fermentation, distillation and dehydration. Due to the remote locations of each farm, overall management of production is difficult. Often vital information is available days or weeks after data has been collected, and this makes the process of optimising production and yield difficult. In addition, the process relies on semi skilled labour and is manually intensive. Would it be possibly to bring modern mobile technology into this difficult and remote workplace?
Microsoft partnered with BP to propose a proof of concept that would utilise a network of IoT (Internet of Things) devices that could remotely capture data without the need for manual intervention. These devices could communicate with a mobile device which would capture and collate the data, store it internally, then upload the information when satellite based network connectivity became available. This information would then be stored and displayed using the immense capabilities of Azure and PowerBI.
Limitless Solutions was contracted in a Senior Consulting role directly by Microsoft to undertake the creation of the mobile component of the project. We created a Xamarin Forms based application on an Android tablet that could be used by a non technical user to gather information from bluetooth equipped devices and store them using SQLIte. The application was designed to be easy to use, multi lingual (Portugese, Spanish, and English), and used Azure Mobile Services for remote synchronisation.