For an industry well acquainted with booms and busts, 2020 has proven to be unprecedented for the oil and gas industry. The crash of oil prices, compounded by a global pandemic has many in the industry self-isolating at home. And with oil prices near historic lows and supplies dwarfing demand—there has been little pressure to pump, virus or not.

SPOC Automation decided to make the best use of the downtime. In an effort to help their customers remain productive, even as they sheltered in place, SPOC created a series of short “Two-Minute Drives” training videos to explore often misunderstood issues related to variable frequency drives and oilfield automation.

“When the shelter-in-place orders first came down, our team started brainstorming ideas to make use of the downtime,” Robert Mason, CEO of SPOC Automation, said. “In normal circumstances, our industry moves so fast that it is difficult to do much to educate people on our technology. Time is not the problem now.”

For producers, one of the challenges with automation is that the people responsible for buying and using the technology are not experts in that field.

“Many of the people buying and using our technology do not have a background in electrical engineering,” Stacey Brooks, SPOC’s engineering manager, said. “Our technical support team fields a lot of questions and we used that as a foundation for this series.”

What the SPOC team came up with are known as Two-Minute Drives, short technical videos that explore a specific topic or question common to SPOC’s customers. Think of them as a video Frequently Asked Questions, with answers coming straight from the experts at SPOC. With everyone at SPOC practicing social distancing, they obviously couldn’t get together to film this series. So, each member of the SPOC team filmed their own episode at home.

From the initial idea, the Two-Minute Drives were designed to educate, not sell. That’s one reason they turned to their engineering and technical staff as presenters. These are the experts who spend their careers focused on automation innovation. When issues arise in the field, they are the experts who resolve them, so it was only natural that they be the face of the Two-Minute Drives program.

“From the beginning, we were most concerned with the quality of the content,” Mason said. “It’s critical that our experts address each question and that their answers be practical and useful. Our people have really embraced the concept with a lot of enthusiasm.”

To date, SPOC has produced multiple videos, covering a diverse range of issues. Some of the more popular episodes include: Using a VFD to Compensate for Rod Float; Leveraging the Data in SPOC’s HMI to Troubleshoot Issues in the Field; The Importance of Reforming Capacitors on Drives That Have Been Idle; Why Let Your VFD Control Other Field Devices; and Basics of Reading a SPOC Wiring Diagram.

Additional episodes are currently in production.