New Frontier Technologies: Seamlessly Bridging the Gap between IT and OT

Long before data became the gold that it is today, there were several individuals trying to mine, process, and assess it to extract valuable insights, and then transform that information into comprehensible content. It is their intense focus that the omnipresent data today is being utilized to develop innovative solutions in almost every industry. Craig Walker, president of Overland Park, Kansas-based New Frontier Technologies, is one of them. Along with his partner, Chad Schimke, Walker founded New Frontier Technologies (NFT) in 2012 to help businesses in the O&G industry tap into and make use of the large volumes of unused and unrefined data to improve processes and be more effective. “We apply practiced and proven methodologies to assist our clients in solving operational problems using off-the-shelf automation technologies. By doing so, we bridge the gaps that often exist between operational and business systems and people,” says Walker. NFT is a new breed system integration company that is committed to helping O&G businesses, among several others, including firms in the food and beverage industry, discrete manufacturing as well as original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) to solve the most complex problems in improving operation, maintenance, and support.

In today’s marketplace, businesses are under increasing pressure to deliver more profits than ever before. Operations personnel are obliged to not just keep systems running—safely and cost-effectively—but also continually make changes to improve efficiency to stay ahead of the competition. This can be extremely challenging, especially with complex project implementation schedules, rising manpower and equipment costs, and unexpected issues that may arise. NFT is capable of helping organizations meet these issues head-on with proven project management methodologies and a highly-skilled staff of industry experts. “We have a superior focus on IT as well as automation—the operational technology (OT) side of it; our tagline is ‘Where Operations Meets I.T.’,” explains Walker. “Our teams not only have a high level of expertise in the IT space with respect to networking, communications, server systems, back-office ERP, and business applications. We also possess a great understanding of how our clients operate at remote locations: terminals, pumping or compressor stations, tank farms, and meter stations. We pride ourselves on knowing how physical products move through pipelines, how they are treated or blended, metered into tanks, and monitored for safe operation. Basically, we understand how all of that works.”

What makes NFT unique is the fact that its clients do not have to depend on a third-party to help them with maintaining their IT operations. Often, traditional system integration companies are only proficient in the OT aspect and not so much on the IT aspect, and have to depend on a partner to deal with the communications , networking, and the back-office. NFT eliminates that need; the company has all the resources and methodologies required to manage the overall process from the field to the back office— internally. “We have in-depth knowledge of system design and development of OT and IT applications. We apply our wide breadth of experience and expertise to help our clients solve the toughest problems and we do this knowing how all of the components work together,” informs Schimke, Partner, NFT. By identifying urgent improvements, defining and documenting critical requirements, ensuring that workflow and operational processes adhere to regulatory requirements, the firm helps its clients transform real-time operational data into actionable business information.


We have a superior focus on IT as well as automation— the operational technology (OT) side of it; our tagline is ‘Where Operations Meets I.T.


Besides, they also protect critical infrastructure with tailored cybersecurity services for industrial control systems (ICS). Other notable characteristics of NFT include its customer-centricity and responsiveness to both major and minor issues (24*7*365 support). To further illustrate NFT’s value proposition, Walker cites the success story of an O&G client in the crude oil midstream market. NFT helped the company upgrade an existing terminal to increase asset utilization, improve safety, and increase operational flexibility by improving the traditional method of metering crude oil during truck unloading. NFT’s client nearly eliminated labor required to reconcile product movement through the terminal, eliminating product loss. NFT’s improved truck unloading application reduces initial capital expenditure and ongoing operating costs at new facilities by using less equipment to enable the same if not more product throughput.

NFT’s client had multiple lanes of existing metering equipment installed at the terminal. Each lane was designed to support a single dedicated producer’s product unloading activity. When new producers were added, the client required an entirely new lane of metering equipment. This design was effective, but rarely were the product offload lanes used continuously throughout the day. NFT developed a software solution that allowed a single lane of metering equipment to be “shared” among many producers, thus, increasing the number of producers that could offload at the terminal, and improving asset utilization immensely. The software provided the flexibility to add producers without adding new metering equipment, increasing throughput without increasing capital expenditure. The software also provided the ability to capture unloaded product movement electronically, allowing the midstream company to manage and maintain records in a database, eliminating the extensive effort to reconcile paper bills of lading.

Steering ahead, NFT has two major plans: expand its operations significantly in Houston, Texas and focus heavily on edge connectivity. Alongside, the firm is also working on a few new niche products—both hardware and software applications— and strategically looking at acquisitions. In an era where O&G companies are struggling to ensure that their projects do not go over budget or off schedule, NFT is proving to businesses that it is possible to increase efficiency without increasing costs.

Company
New Frontier Technologies

Headquarters
Overland Park, Kansas

Management
Craig Walker, President and Chad Schimke

Description
A new breed system integration company that is committed to helping O&G businesses solve the most complex problems by simplifying their system for improved operation, maintenance, and support