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The Jessie James of frac sand better mount their ride and head for the hills. The days of the great truck or train robbery are over!

In 1873, the notorious gang leader, Jesse James, a Wild West legend, attached a rope to a part of a train track near the Adair, Iowa station and loosened it. As the train approached, the engineer saw the rope and attempted to reverse to avoid the hazard, but was unsuccessful. Jesse and his brother Frank, took the derailed train by force with 44’s and rode off with nearly $3,000, worth about $51,000 today.

Today, Jessie drives a pneumatic truck in the oilfield wielding PO numbers for loads of sand. The robbers of today steal sand from distributors, mines, and transload facilities, then drive off into the sunset to sell the sand on the black frack sand market.

How do they do it? By picking up PO numbers from the cb radio and other drivers. These bandits have created problems for suppliers and buyers by using the familiarity of their running in and out of the same locations as a sort of cover for taking sand. They pick it up, but they never deliver it. By the time anyone figures out that the sand is missing dozens of loads of sand have moved and there is little means for determining who was the sand bandit!

Now, there is a new sheriff in town and the systems of cb radio communications are about to become the Morse code and telegraph communication of the past. We are in the cell phone age and the oilfield is going high tech!

Do you Uber? If you never have, it is the new generation of taxi drivers. Private individuals sign up with Uber as drivers and use their own cars to drive people around. Everything is done by internet. So, when Joe Patron wants a ride, he goes to his Uber app, requests a ride and the system does the rest.

And just what is the rest? Well, it assigns Uber Driver Fred to Joe Patron. Joe Patron can see where Driver Fred is by the GPS on his phone and knows exactly when he will arrive to pick him up. He even knows what type of car he is driving, so that he can watch for him.

Once Joe Patron has been dropped at his destination, Driver Fred ends the ride and Joe Patron gets a notice. Once this is done, Joe Patron is immediately billed for the ride. He instantly gets a receipt on his phone. There is no paper exchange. There is no cash exchange or credit card swiping. Everything is done electronically, including the tip.

Recently, Uber added a new feature. I can order bbq from my favorite restaurant, then call Uber to pick it up and deliver it to me. Everything transacts on my phone. The Uber driver ends the ticket when my food is delivered, I confirm it, and I am instantly billed.

Ok, so track with me here.

Dispatcher Alice (Uber) contracts trucks with Trucking Company A and B to deliver sand. She has a list of drivers that work for Company A. Today, she needs a number of loads of sand picked up and delivered to her customer, Mr. Pumper. So, she puts in a request for a sand delivery. Mr. Frack Sand Trucker is dispatched to pick up and deliver a load of sand, along with 10 other frac sand truckers, who each get a load. Every load is assigned to a specific truck. Think of each sand load as a person that Dispatcher Alice is requesting a ride for. A trucker is assigned to each load by receiving a text with a QR (the little square with geometric figures in it – you scan it to get information). QR’s are a coded way of storing data.

The QR stores an encrypted ID#. That number is registered in the cloud and the information is retrieved and validated – just like Uber. The info retrieved says, “Trucking Company A – Truck #15 is assigned to Alice’s Load #32.”

What if that truck drives for several companies? The QR’s would be different for each company, so he just needs to present the right one when he gets to his pick-up location. No QR – no load. Bye Bye! And, the trucking company that hired the driver trying to steal sand, gets a notification of the bad QR!

So, Dispatcher Alice directs Company A: Truck #15 to pick up a load from a transload. But, Truck #16 shows up…… sorry, no load. If the QR doesn’t match the truck, it is a no go! There is no QR swapping or substitution. Each truck has an ID and every load has it’s own data. If the driver shares his QR and it doesn’t line up with the truck….busted. When a driver picks up a load, it has an open ticket until it is delivered.

So, Mr. Frack Sand Trucker arrives at the transload facility, his QR is scanned, his license plate is verified, his truck is loaded and off he goes. When he gets to Mr. Pumper’s well site, his QR is scanned again, his ticket is closed, and the sand ride is complete. Trucking Company A (Uber) gets paid for each load, that has been completed.

Alice can check the time it took for the driver to pick up and deliver, due to the check in times. Just about any form of data an owner or logistics company needs can be designed into the data organized in the cloud.

Here is the best part. Mr. Pumper can use his phone to go online and check where his frac sand loads are located. He knows, if a load has been dispatched and to what truck. He can see how much sand is coming to him, what cut is being delivered by which truck, and the estimated arrival time.

The BOL (Bill of Lading) is electronic!

Mr. Frack Sand Trucker doesn’t know who owns the sand, what type of sand he is carrying, and who is receiving it. At best, he can figure out some of the info based on the well site. Otherwise, Mr. Frack Sand Trucker has access to far less information. No more gossiping about who is buying which cut of sand, who they are buying it from, or the total sand and cut of sand on the PO.

The BOL (Bill of Lading) is now in the cloud!

Wouldn’t it be nice to do business with a little more confidentiality?

Better yet, no more sand heists. This system can also be applied to train car shipments or barges delivering loads from the mine to the transload facility. This system can be applied all the way from the mine to the well.

It is really quite simple. Variations of tracking, tools used to verify, etc. can be implemented for your unique needs. The back of the house accounting, inventory management, gps tracking, what was delivered, how much, when, where and who, is all recorded and organized for easy access.

Isn’t that awesome? Each system is custom designed to meet the needs of the logistics company, the sand owner, and/or the customer. Customers can even go on their phones to their own portal to find out where their train load or truck load is located, what cut of sand, and how much they have left to receive. They can request load deliveries, cancel loads or redirect the delivery to another well site.

Even rail yard operators can check their phones to figure out what sand is where and in what car or storage area!

No more guys running around the rail yard trying to take inventory.

Now for the icing on the cake……..if you are interested in this system, you don’t have to buy it. The tech guys set it up for you, bill you monthly, and provide ongoing adjustments as your business changes and grows. This system provides savings by reducing man hours, protecting against theft, and providing the customer more information instantly, which should make them pretty happy!

The geniuses who developed this system, work in the banking industry and have done several applications in oil and gas. They aren’t new to this rodeo and can take you through an online webinar showing how it works. You will be impressed.

Meet Dave Moriarty of Farber Systems. Feel free to call him direct: 203-856-3864

So, if you are familiar with Uber, you may desire to inquire if they are working on driverless pneumatic trucks. Uh, that would be a no. But shoot, I guess anything is possible!

So, stop writing off sand losses to theft. And, if you are a sand thief, keep your nose clean, because there really is a new sheriff in town. Only this one wields a phone that will stop you in your tracks, if you are trying to heist sand!

Have a great week.


p.s. As I have declared before, I am not a believer that oil prices will remain low for the long haul. OPEC cutbacks are not proving to be the market reversal people had hoped, making fracking the swing King! U.S. production has moved up, in spite of some resource shortages. But, keep watching…the twin sisters, economic improvement and population growth, could still turn the tables. This past weekend was the beginning of U.S. summer driving. Let’s see what happens to supply levels.


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