Jennifer Pallanich, senior technology editor, Hart Energy: The energy industry is chasing automation in a lot of areas, one of them being hydraulic fracturing. I’m here with William Ruhle of Halliburton to explain what is on the roadmap over here. But first, what are some of the challenges when it comes to automating fractures?

Will Ruhle, strategic business manager, Halliburton: Automating fractures is challenging in that we have a lot of complex machinery. We have very complex processes and we have a lot of people involved in the operation. Automation is about bringing all those things together. Control systems need to bring process equipment and also people together. That has been a challenging task. In addition, you have to drive a lot of change management. There are certain cultures in the industry that are used to the way things have been done for a long time, so you have to be able to drive that with the product.

JP: Okay. And so where is Halliburton in all of this right now? What are you guys offering when it comes to frac automation?

WR: For frac automation, we focused on the automation of the spread is the first step. So all of our fleets here in North America now operate as a single system, meaning that from the command center where the frac operation is run, the treater or the individual who controls that equipment, controls it like a processing plant. No longer do they control individual units, they run a frac fleet, like a single system.

JP: And there’s a platform for that?

WR: Yeah, Octiv intelligent fracturing platform is the system we have deployed.

JP: Okay. And what’s on the roadmap going forward?

WR: The roadmap is exciting. The next step is really the automation of the frac job in that all the decisions we make and how pumps are ramped, how they come offline, how that interacts with the reservoir, how we navigate certain issues such as screen outs, those are the things we’re focused on, and that’s really what the E&Ps are looking for.

JP: Sounds like a very exciting time for Halliburton. Thanks for talking me through it.

WR: Thank you.

JP: And that’s me, Jennifer Pallanich, with this Hart Energy Exclusive.