McCoy Global Takes Seat as Digital Leader with Cloud Platform
A serverless architecture built for IoT with custom application development reimagines how oil and gas companies operate.
About McCoy Global
Founded in 1914 and headquartered in Alberta, Canada, McCoy Global is the leading provider of tubular makeup technologies for the global oil and gas industry. Energy companies around the world rely on McCoy products to keep drilling operations safe and efficient through making secure tubular connections while monitoring the integrity of the wellbore.
McCoy Global has traditionally produced capital equipment for the oil and gas industry. The company’s portfolio of equipment is used on oil rigs, and the company’s portfolio of sensors allows customers to monitor the performance and integrity of land and offshore operations.
In 2019, McCoy asked themselves a bold question: What if they could turn their products into IoT devices and make drilling-related data available to customers and third-party experts through a cloud platform?
If so, customers could shed the expense of having experts on site, especially when pipe is connected at drill sites. Instead, they could simply log in to a portal application and interact with third-party experts remotely as connections are made.
Already the leader in its industry, this new digital service would further secure McCoy’s position in the market and insulate the company from digital disruption. In fact, it could even set a new standard in safety, not to mention save customers a substantial amount of money in onsite expertise.
To pull it off, McCoy would need scalable cloud infrastructure with an IoT architecture on the backend and custom application development on the front.
Richard Chism, Project Manager for Digital Transformation for McCoy Global, was tasked with figuring out how to make the big idea a reality.
“We’re not cloud architects; we're not UI guys; we don't have the experience with front- and back-end designs for web applications,” Chism said. “We could either try to create that kind of team, which would have taken a substantial amount of time and money, or we could find a partner that could get the job done.”
McCoy decided to put the lion’s share of its annual technology budget to piloting a cloud platform using pipe connection data from MTT®, the McCoy Torque / Turn Monitoring System. Chism and his team had eight months to see if it would work.
McCoy turned to WWT to get the job done.
“WWT not only had the cloud expertise we were looking for, but they also had a record of executing large-scale IoT projects,” Chism said. “Another hugely important factor were the capabilities of WWT Application Services and the ability of WWT to create custom applications quickly.”
Building a cloud platform
McCoy knew that it couldn’t build out the infrastructure to support the massive amounts of data being produced by MTT. Given the company’s existing familiarity with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS’ standing as a leader in serverless architectures, the public cloud provider was the logical choice to host the solution.
WWT architects employed four major AWS tools for the cloud platform architecture:
- AWS IoT Core: WWT used AWS IoT core to enable the McCoy platform to securely and easily connect and manage MTT devices. IoT Core is designed to handle billions of devices and trillions of messages. This scalability not only allows McCoy to turn MTT into an IoT product but sets the foundation for McCoy to turn other products into IoT devices in the future.
- AWS Lambda: AWS Lambda was used to provide data processing at scale. Lambdas are used on both the data ingestion and the data display portions of the application for the cloud platform. AWS Lambda is a managed service that enables pieces of code, Function as a Service (FaaS), to be executed as part of an application. One of Lambda’s key features is auto-scaling of the functions to match application demands. This flexibility allows McCoy’s infrastructure to behave the same during peak usage as it does during slow periods of use.
- Amazon API Gateway: Amazon API Gateway serves as the API management piece of the McCoy portal application. API Gateway orchestrates the Lambdas to create a secure and scalable API for the platform’s web application.
- Amazon DynamoDB: Amazon DynamoDB provides data storage at performance and scale. Coupled with IoT Core, Dynamo enables the McCoy platform to quickly ingest data from all MTT IoT devices in the field and also return data with single digit millisecond response time.
The right architecture for the job
To remove the dependency of having experts on site, remote experts need to have the right information in a timely fashion. Keeping this dependency in mind, but also knowing MTT devices are used in remote and rugged environments that often only have 2g connection at the edge of the network, the McCoy platform uses a minimal messaging structure and minimal infrastructure. Each message between remote experts and customers only uses 10-15 kilobytes of data, allowing them to communicate in near real time.
The architecture also boasts strong security features. Customers can share data with remote, third-party experts during a job but easily remove experts from having visibility into the well after pipe connections are complete.
But what’s most exciting about the architecture for McCoy is its scalability. Because it’s built on serverless architecture, McCoy will only pay for consumption when jobs are being executed. AWS costs scale with demand.
“Because we’re only paying for infrastructure when our customers need it, we were able to invest the majority of money for the project into application development,” Chism said.
A custom cloud portal
In short order, WWT Application Services helped McCoy have a user-friendly interface for its cloud platform. From the project’s kickoff, McCoy knew they were in the right hands.
“Using the agile process, we created iterations from day zero to the end,” Chism said. “During the kickoff we created success stories for all of the features of the project.”
WWT broke down every feature of the project into palatable elements, which allowed McCoy to proactively prioritize which features they wanted to deploy at what times.
During the project the McCoy and WWT came together as one team. Working in tandem, they were able to eliminate any blocking during the development process.
It was Chism and his team’s first exposure to the agile process.
“The cross-functional engagement really blurred the line between McCoy and WWT,” Chism said. “I really liked being able to proactively prioritize, and that nobody was blocking each other for more than a couple of hours during cycles. That’s very rare with traditional development. We were able to move at an incredibly high velocity.”
In eight months, McCoy had what they were after: a lightweight web application with a friendly user interface accessible to customers and remote experts, with features for real-time data viewing, data sharing, customer-to-expert chatting and historical data capture.
Moving forward, they can easily promote code updates using AWS Code Build and Code Pipeline.
“To look at what we have now compared to eight months ago is incredible,” Chism said.
McCoy customers with MTT are using the new cloud platform and portal today, driving down the cost of having expertise onsite when pipe connections are made. Additionally, all historical data is accessible to users, whereas before, results from connections were stored by the customer in PDF form.
But this is the just the beginning for McCoy.
Because McCoy has a global, scalable platform in place, and data stored in a way that it can be analyzed, in the future they can begin exploring a variety of use cases to help their customers make more automated, data-driven decisions.
“This was phase one of the project, and we’re excited about the next phases in front of us,” Chism said. “This is going to be an ongoing digital journey, and one we couldn’t have started on without WWT.”